Smart successfully makes 1st Voice over Wi-fi call in Cebu

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SMART Communications, Inc. on Tuesday said it has made the first successful Voice over Wi-fi (VoWifi) call over a live network in Cebu, a few months after the company made the same breakthrough in Manila.

In a statement, Smart said it tested the VoWiFi, which allows customers to make and receive calls and text messages over a Wi-fi connection, with technology partner Huawei Technologies, Inc. in Cebu.

“As we invest in future-proofing our network, we are continuously innovating to add more communication options for our customers. We look forward to letting our customers make high-definition Wi-Fi calls soon,” PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering Mario G. Tamayo said in the statement.

VoWiFi is a feature that allows users to call or text through a mobile device’s native dialer using a Wi-Fi connection such as Smart Wi-fi and PLDT Home Wi-fi.

Smart said it also offers an expanded network coverage to let users take advantage of the feature wherever a Wi-Fi connection is available.

“Soon, Smart customers will be able to make voice over Wi-fi calls using VoWifi-capable smartphones,” the company said, without giving details.

Smart said it had made the country’s first Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) call last year. VoLTE is similar to VoWiFi, but uses LTE or fourth generation (4G) connection instead.

“Customers with VoLTE-capable devices can stay on the 4G/LTE network when making and receiving calls, which makes call set-up time in LTE faster… [B]ecause LTE is very efficient in carrying data traffic, a voice call made over LTE is crystal clear quality, with almost no background noise,” it said.

PLDT signed a $28.5-million deal with Huawei Technologies early this year with the goal of developing its wireless services.

“We will continue to strengthen and revolutionize our network so that we can deliver relevant services such as Wi-Fi Calling and VoLTE, as well as voice/video over 5G (fifth generation) in the near future,” Mr. Tamayo said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez