Wi-Fi currently occupies an extremely prominent place in the usage of smartphones throughout the world. This is because it has a few exceptional features that are simply not available to the wireless data connections that we all pay for. To start off with, it’s almost always free whether it’s being offered at home, the office, or at a third-party business establishment. It is also ubiquitous being available almost everywhere. Wi-Fi hotspots are nothing new and all important locations like airports for example offer Wi-Fi connectivity both for the casual traveler as well as the dedicated globetrotter.
In addition to the cost and easy availability however, Wi-Fi is also noted for its high speeds and reliability when the signal is strong. Unlike the wireless data connections, there is very little latency, jitter, lag, or any other connection problem that we frequently encounter when using the 3G or 4G networks. This mix of availability, cost, speed and reliability make Wi-Fi the preferred choice of network for most heavy Internet usage on smartphones. Of course, it suffers from a single fatal flaw – and that is the prohibitive cost to deploy it over an extremely wide area without expensive equipment and other technological workarounds. This necessitates the usage of the wireless data networks provided by the carriers when on the move. It would be ideal of course if users were isolated from the details of implementation and if the smartphones automatically switched over to available Wi-Fi networks in the background without disturbing the browsing experience or any other Internet usage by the customer.
But this is not possible without a deeper integration of Wi-Fi and wireless radio. Specifically, operating system developers have to pay more attention to being able to easily handoff connections between Wi-Fi and wireless data. The technology already exists. It’s called UMA and it serves as a technique for the transparent switching of networks even while the user is in the midst of using an Internet P2P application like VoIP. So far, the standard hasn’t been widely adopted on phones probably because the telecom carriers would throw a fit if it was installed everywhere since it is a direct blow to their revenue stream if people are able to use the Internet for reliably making VoIP calls.
Fortunately, innovative companies like Republic Wireless have started offering customized handsets running the Android operating system that offer this important functionality to users at cheap rates. They’ve see great adoption so far and in fact the demand has exceeded the capability to provide these phones. Let’s hope that the industry and wireless carriers in particular will take note of these developments and start integrating this innovative technology into their handsets to ensure that customers can make full use of the Internet for making VoIP calls.