Tele2 Russia, the country’s fourth largest cellco, has announced the commercial launch of Wi-Fi Calling, initially available for users in Moscow city and the Moscow Region, enabling its subscribers to make/receive calls and send/receive SMS messages over Wi-Fi connections where mobile coverage is unavailable or poor. The Wi-Fi Calling service is provisioned via a downloadable application, which only the subscriber needs to install – the recipients of the subscriber’s calls and messages do not require the app. All Wi-Fi calls/texts are charged at Russian domestic regional rates even if the subscriber is roaming internationally. The Wi-Fi Calling app is compatible with iOS (7 and later versions) and Android (4.0 and later versions) smartphones, and will soon be available to download from the App Store and Google Play for subscribers outside of Moscow too, according to the company’s website announcement.
Earlier this month Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) claimed Russia’s first commercial launch of Voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), also in Moscow and its surrounding Region, although MTS’ solution is initially restricted to users of Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge smartphones (whilst it plans to expand the range of supporting devices). Russian news site Tdaily notes that MTS’ Wi-Fi calling service operates on a different principle to that of Tele2, as MTS subscribers are not required to download an application, with the necessary software pre-installed on the compatible phone, therefore significantly limiting the range of potential users in the early phase.
Tele2 Russia has operated in the Moscow market for only just over a year, having expanded its network to the capital in October 2015. Last month it marked the anniversary of its Moscow launch by disclosing that it now operates over 10,000 base stations in the city/region, a total it raised by 50% over the course of the year, to give it ‘97%’ population coverage of Moscow and its surrounds.