Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has reportedly started advanced testing of its Voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) service in India. The new development would enable the state-owned telco to take on over-the-top (OTT) players such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that are offering voice calling using Wi-Fi or mobile data. Initially, the operator is said to have started its VoWi-Fi service in certain circles with the objective to provide voice calling support mainly in tier-II and tier-III cities and remote locations where cellular networks are limited. BSNL isn't likely to be the only Indian telco to test its VoWi-Fi service. Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are also said to be in "advanced stages" of their testing.
With the VoWi-Fi service, BSNL will be able to provide voice calling support even without a mobile signal. The operator is set to launch the new development in all circles over time, though the initial rollout will be limited to areas that don't have sufficient mobile networks, The Hindu Business Line reports citing a person familiar with the matter.
It is speculated that by offering VoWi-Fi to its subscribers, BSNL would be able to take on OTT platforms WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that are providing voice calling without requiring the traditional cellular network, using Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP). Truecaller is another new entry to VoIP market in India.
Last year, Reliance Jio reportedly started testing its VoWi-Fi service in India. The Mumbai-based telco was said to have picked four regions for its pilot, namely Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana. A screenshot pointing at the Jio VoWi-Fi service also emerged online that hinted at the initial rollout meant only for Jio-to-Jio communications.
Apart from Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are also reportedly working on their VoWi-Fi developments. The latest report even claims that amongst other telcos, Airtel and Reliance Jio are already in advanced stages of their testing and would launch their VoWi-Fi services "soon."