Orange is to continue the roll out of its Signal Boost service, the smart Wi-Fi application provided by Kineto Wireless. The application boosts 3G coverage by turning Wi-Fi access points in an extension of the mobile network.
Kineto’s Smart Wi-Fi Application helps offload traffic from an operator’s macro cellular network. This relieves congestion, improves network capacity performance and reduces operating costs. It also improves coverage for customers who can switch their smartphones over to use existing Wi-Fi access points when their cellular coverage is poor.
Operators using the service, sometimes referred to as UMA (unlimited mobile access), have reported a 25%-40% reduction in churn rates from subscribers and found that they consume 20% less data from the macro network.
Paul Jevons, director of product marketing at Orange said: ‘Our Signal Boost service has been very successful in providing an in-home coverage solution of those customers who require it. It is a very simple solution. You turn on the app and everything works. Customers do not need any new equipment, there is no change of number and their address book works as normal.’
Jevons said that the service would be rolled out to T-Mobile customers later this year. In the meantime, Orange is working with Kineto and manufacturers of Android phones to widen its portfolio of Signal Boost-enabled handsets. BlackBerry devices are also available on Orange with Signal Boost.
Orange has been providing the Signal Boost service for several years. But Kineto needs to work with open source operating systems, so the huge growth in Android phones has given it and operators such as Orange a major opportunity to expand their Smart Wi-Fi service.
Jevons said: ‘Customers are telling us that they are experiencing an improvement in coverage and call quality. 80% said it was easy to set up and 50% told us that it was influencing their choice of handset. Coverage issues are a local issue. Signal Boost allows us to offer a very simple and efficient local solution.’
The application has to be preloaded onto the phone and then tailored to a particular operator’s network requirements. However, Jevons said this used to involve a hardware solution, but Kineto has come up with a software solution that means the time taken to get a new handset to market has been cut to a few months.
Steven Shaw, VP of marketing at Kineto explained that customers can use their home Wi-Fi (or log onto someone else’s if given the password) or connect to external Wi-Fi networks when outside their homes.
Previously, customers sometimes lost some cellular services (including voice) when switching over to a Wi-Fi connection, but Signal Boost seamlessly provides an identical voice, SMS and data experience to an outdoor cellular network. By switching off their cellular radio customers can also boost the battery performance of their handset.
Signal Boost allows customers to make free calls on any Wi-Fi access point, which provides the networks with a way to address the threat to their revenues from mobile VoIP calls. Another benefit is that customers can use the service when travelling overseas, thereby avoiding expensive roaming tariffs. The latter benefit provides Orange with a real sales opportunity in the b2b market.
Shaw said that around 26 Android devices are now enabled with its Smart Wi-Fi application, including handsets from HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola. Two new Orange branded devices from Huawei, the Barcelona and Stockholm, have also just been added to the range and will be available from 1 July.
Orange is expected to begin marketing the benefits of Signal Boost more aggressively now that a wide range of Android handsets are Smart Wi-Fi enabled both to consumers and to businesses.
Posted by: James