That’s the number of calls AT&T’s president of Network Operations Bill Smith said the operator is carrying over Wi-Fi everyday.
The comments, made at an investor conference on Tuesday, come just eight months after AT&T’s launch of Wi-Fi calling for iOS devices and on the heels of the carrier’s roll out of Wi-Fi calling for Android last week.
“About 80 percent of the wireless traffic today gets handled over Wi-Fi networks,” Smith said. “We’re now carrying over 4 million calls a day on voice over Wi-Fi, and we just recently started turning up Android-based operating systems. So I think that’s going to go up tremendously, and we’re doing that at extremely impressive performance levels.”
That number is fairly impressive given that AT&T has lagged significantly behind its peers in rolling out Wi-Fi calling.
Unlike T-Mobile and Sprint, which launched their Wi-Fi calling services in June 2007 and early 2014, respectively, AT&T delayed its roll out of the service to wait for an FCC waiver for text telephony (TTY) requirements. AT&T obtained the FCC waiver in October 2015 and promptly rolled out Wi-Fi calling for iOS devices.
AT&T added Wi-Fi calling for the LG G4 smarpthone last week and said other Android devices will support the service soon.
Like AT&T, rival Verizon also sought a TTY waiver from the FCC before rolling out Wi-Fi calling for Android devices in December 2015. Verizon expanded its Wi-Fi calling service to include the iPhone 6 and all newer models running iOS 9.3 in March of this year.
Smith on Tuesday Wi-Fi has been a great help in offloading network traffic thus far, but said the unlicensed bands could prove to be an even greater asset if operators can build a control plane capable of managing the airwaves more efficiently.
“We’re actually pretty bullish about how we take not only Wi-Fi but other unlicensed bands,” Smith said. “When you consider that this has been kind of an un-engineered asset that we’ve been taking advantage of, I think when you look going forward we will be sophisticated enough to use unlicensed bands more effectively and in a more sophisticated manner.”