Light Reading's Mike Dano has a good account of AT&T choosing to work with WiFi aggregation and DAS provider Boing to offload data traffic using Passpoint.
Passpoint, as Dano writes:
Allow cellular network operators to offload their network traffic onto WiFi networks. Boingo is one of the leading supporters of Passpoint technology in the United States, and already has similar WiFi offload agreements with Sprint and cable company Charter (which last year launched its Spectrum Mobile MVNO service, which makes heavy use of WiFi offloading in order to reduce the amount of money Charter must pay to Verizon for wholesale MVNO access to the company's cellular network).
There's only one big problem with Passpoint. WiFi calling and handover. For a few years I lived in a very densely populated, WiFi rich area in Los Angeles area around Marina Del Rey. Passpoint was being deployed by Time Warner Cable all over the area. In theory Passpoint would allow my Android, iPhone or iPad to "latch" onto the WiFi signal and offload the traffic. Well latching on was never the problem, as Passpoint worked flawlessly. But when I was on a phone call, and the mobile signal would weaken, especially when making a VoIP call, regardless of VoIP provider, or even Skype, the call would magically drop. The impact would worsen as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all rolled out WiFi calling, as the connectivity to WiFi would be there, but the voice call would instantly drop.
The problem was none of the parties involved, the mobile operator, Boingo, the VoIP provider or TimeWarner (now Charter's Spectrum) were even close to deploying FMC (fixed mobile convergence) and VCC (voice call continuity), a technology patented by pal Tom Carter and Bodie Wilhoite.
That patent, and Carter's own money, which was the first investment into a pioneering company, paved the way for the formation of Bridgeport Networks, a former client of mine, whose patent portfolio is now part of Counterpath, another former client.
Back in 2005 Bridgeport held a gathering of members of the MobileIgnite Alliance, a very visionary group which included future FCC chair Thomas Wheeler, representatives of Earthlink, Boingo, Sprint and others. At the gathering, which was when Boingo joined the Alliance, and which I remember moderating a panel at, was all about solving the problem of calls being handed off between various IP networks, with a core focus of the traffic being managed between WiFi and mobile networks.
With this news about AT&T it's clear that the vision of Carter and Wilhoite was correct, but the lack of deployment of technology that allows for Voice Call Continuity has held back the success of true fixed mobile convergence.
As carriers love to run ads about "less dropped calls" sadly, without FMC, I can hear John Legere of T-Mobile already saying, "see, they now have more dropped calls than anyone" as he loves to poke fun at AT&T.