Before and After Bonded CallingTM

Last week we shared a list of exciting plans we have in the works for 2016. We meant it when we said we were gonna start checking things off the list! This week, we are thrilled to introduce the next generation of WiFi Calling: Bonded Calling™. Now, our network actually senses if there is a problem with your call and fills in the gaps with your phone’s other data networks to catch dropped calls before they ever happen. For those who really want to understand the ins and outs of the technology that makes this possible, we’re going straight to the source: Our engineers, for an inside look at how this works.

Republic Wireless pioneered a version of WiFi calling that allowed its users to make calls using a WiFi network when one was available and handoff the call to a cellular circuit-switched network when the conditions on the WiFi network fell below acceptable levels.  The handoff ability allowed a user to start or receive a call on a WiFi network and transition to a cellular circuit-switched network during the call seamlessly.  The user’s call would not be dropped simply because they hopped in a car and started driving away from the WiFi connection.

Republic continued developing its technology to implement a reverse handoff. Now the user could park her car, walk into her house and have the call transition from the cellular circuit-switched network to her home WiFi connection.  Again, this could be done mid-call in a seamless manner.

Both handoff and reverse handoff were either/or propositions.  You were either on a cellular circuit-switched network or on a WiFi network – never both at the same time.  When a handoff occurred, the communication link for the telephone call on the network making the handoff was terminated in favor of a communication link for the telephone call on the network receiving the handoff.

Handoff decisions were made in hopes of providing the best quality network at that given moment for a telephone call.  If WiFi quality deteriorated, the telephone call would be handed to the cellular circuit-switched network.  If the phone picked up a quality WiFi connection, the telephone call could be handed back to WiFi.

Now Republic has advanced WiFi calling to an even greater level through something we affectionately refer to as – wait for it … wait for it … “Bonded Calling™” – enabled with Adaptive Coverage™.

REPUBLIC WIRELESS ADAPTIVE COVERAGE™

This is the cool stuff.  With Bonded Calling™, part of our Adaptive Coverage™ suite of tech, now, when you make a call over WIFI, Republic can automatically establish a second communication link over your phone’s cellular IP data network (at no cost to you) and transmit your voice (and the other party’s) simultaneously over the WiFi link and your phone’s cellular IP data network.  Our super smart engineers figured out a way to intelligently blend the two VoIP audio streams into a single audio stream that is as good or better than either one of the separate VoIP audio streams.

Now if your WiFi connection drops some IP packets in the VoIP audio stream, the cellular IP data connection can fill in the missing packets to ensure the combined VoIP audio stream is as good as it possibly can be.  As we mentioned above, we do not charge you or count the cellular data usage for voice calls against your plan.  It’s on us.

If you’re like me, you pace the house when you’re on a call. Sometimes I’ll even go check the mailbox outside.  Before call bonding, this may have caused a handoff from WiFi to cellular circuit-switched.  With call bonding, we simply utilize more of the cellular IP data network VoIP audio stream if the WiFI VoIP audio stream deteriorates near the mailbox.  As you go back inside, we simply use more of the WiFi VoIP audio stream as it gets stronger and better.

By using a combination of two VoIP audio streams on a single call, we maximize the chances that the VoIP call quality is at its best at all times.  Cool right?

Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention, if the combined WiFi and cellular VoIP audio streams are not up to our quality standards, we can still hand the call off to the cellular circuit-switched network as a safety net fallback. And you’re free to move around. If you move out of range of WiFi, we’ll seamlessly switch your call to cell until you’re back around WiFi again. If your cell signal is bad too, you can roam for free over hundreds of voice roaming partners.

Call Quality help tickets are already declining with the start of Bonded Calling™!

Since the start of Bonded CallingTM the number of tickets (help requests) we receive related to call quality has been declining each week!
Since the start of Bonded CallingTM the number of tickets (help requests) we receive related to call quality has been declining each week!

 

I have been in the VoIP business since 2001 and the previously accepted truth is that Voice over the Internet is only as good as the Internet connection it rides on. We have turned that on its ear. Inconsistent Internet no longer means bad call. – Sean R.

We were so proud of our engineers we bought them all new Teslas and filed 14 patent applications relating to this technology.  Kidding about the Teslas, but we did file for and are receiving patents on the tech.

This is the next generation of WiFi Calling. This is Adaptive Coverage™ – enabled with Bonded Calling™.

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64 thoughts on “Before and After Bonded CallingTM

  1. I read the article. Love the REAL content being communicated (as opposed to the “dancing man” post). But questions:
    . How long has Bonded Calling been in play?
    . So this is live and in play for all user now?
    . I assume that this does not count against our purchased cell data.

    Thanks.

    1. In response to bullet 3, the article states: “As we mentioned above, we do not charge you or count the cellular data usage for voice calls against your plan. It’s on us.”

      I’d also like to know when this goes live. I would imagine it requires and app update.

      1. WiFi only? That used to be the $5.00 plan, but you no longer have a WiFi only plan. I just looked; every plan has unlimited talk and text over the cell network.

        Is a plan including cell data required for adaptive coverage to work?

          1. Yes – the $5 plan is WiFi only. You should be able to see it as a plan change option on the Republic app.

        1. “WiFi only” probably means the $10 plan with no cell data (i.e. data is “WiFi only”).

          The $10 plan has no cell data thus no bonded calling. The $17.50 rebate plan should work with bonded calling. Bonded voice calls may use cell data but that won’t count against your cell data allotment. If you use no other cell data, you’ll get a full $7.50 rebate and end up paying $10 after all. At least that’s how I read it.

          1. The $10 plan does have Adaptive Coverage! (Woo!) Any plan that has cell service (and meets the other criteria) is covered by Adaptive Coverage, as the phone just needs access to the cell network. And to confirm, it does not use up any allotted cell data.

      2. Just another thing Moto E (1st Gen.) users are left out in the cold on. How many other new features besides no Android upgrade and Bonded Calling are we going to miss out on?

        I’m thinking it’s about time to look at changing carriers.

      3. Thanks. I had to do some searching but found my Republic Telephone App was still a 2.1.0.something. I couldn’t just tell it to update. I had to go to the Play Store and search for it to update. It’s now 2.1.2.2246. Actually having some strange freezing and blacking out going on just now. Hope it’s not related. I powered down and powered back up. Seems fine. I’m also wiping my caches while I’m at it. Hadn’t seen that before.

    2. We told you we’d do an update each week. We weren’t fibbing! 🙂

      We’ve been quietly rolling this technology out to our members in batches over the last 3 months. It’s on your phone right now. It is free of charge and no, it doesn’t count against your cell data usage.

      1. So….think that this has already happened to my phone. Picks up my home network no problem. Unfortunately, every morning that I go into work, no go. Having to restart my phone for it to play nice with the wifi network.

  2. The article states, “if the combined WiFi and cellular VoIP audio streams are not up to our quality standards, we can still hand the call off to the cellular circuit-switched network as a safety net fallback.” If bonded calling is already using whichever audio stream is best (checking at 20ms intervals based on the other post), how does handing over to cellular improve things?

    1. Bonded calling combines the DATA side of the cell network (i.e. 3g or 4g) with wifi, as both cell data and wifi communicate over the Internet with TCP/IP. But the hand-off to a full cell call would be with the voice part of the cell network rather than with the data part. That’s a more reliable (and more widespread) connection for voice calls so it makes sense for that to still be there for the final fallback when necessary.

      Thanks,
      Brad

  3. Just want to be sure, so my Moto X 1st generation should work okay with the bonded calls? I was thinking of getting a new phone soon anyway but would rather wait to see what the new offerings are this year first. My app version is 2.1.2.2246 and the telephony says up to date. Thanks

    1. Yes, you are correct! So long as you’ve updated to Lollipop, and your apps are up to date (which they are) you’re good to go!

  4. Nice added feature, …..for my wife’s MOTO X phone….not so much for my older MOTO G. Hmmm, now I know what to ask for on my birthday!

    Thanks for the improvement.

  5. We use Hughes.net for our internet provider and have had good results using republic over the satellite based wifi system. With the inherent latency built into a satellite system, will the bonded calling just get completely confused or do you have something that will adapt to the 1/2 second lag?

    1. Yes, you must have a cell connection to do this, so all plans except the $5 WiFi only plan are covered with Adaptive Coverage 🙂

  6. Do you need to have cell access turned on for any particular app for this feature to work, or does it need any special permissions?

    1. No special permissions needed! All you need is the Lollipop OS, updated Republic and Telephony apps, and a cell connection. We take care of all the rest. 🙂

      1. OK, but what about cell access? I would assume since this feature is designed to kick in when wifi signal strength is low or cuts out, that you would need network cell access in order for the data stream to “fill in the blanks” so to speak. That would mean cell access would have to be enabled for whatever app is handling the bonded calling. Is this being done by the republic apps exclusively? Or would you need to grant cell access to anything else such as your phone app?

      2. Also, when the bonded service DOES switch over to VoIP (data) due to a poor wifi signal, does the dialer give any indication of this? Or does it continue to read as a wifi connection?

        1. So.. Your question got me curious. Had to test. Just did a few test calls to my home phone and walked out of range.

          When on regular WiFi the dialer shows that your are on WiFi and the republic arch is filled in (if your displaying it)
          It also shows the normal WiFi and cellular meter signal indicator (nothing about 3G or LTE).

          When I was getting far, it seemed to hang in to WiFi until the bitter end (I was several houses away with very low signal) and the audio quality was good.

          Eventually my WiFi signal dropped (signal indicator went away) my cellular indicator started to show LTE. The republic arch hollowed out indicating no WiFi connectivity BUT the dialer showed the call was using WiFi as if I was on a WiFi call…

          The manual handover icon also disappeared.

          I noticed immediately that my voice quality went down but I’m sure I could have continued the conversation (hard to talk to your self… If you know what I mean.. 😉 )

          I didn’t wait long enough for it to fail to cellular, but it showed WiFi and filled the arch pretty quickly when I started walking back home.

  7. Will adaptive coverage switch from one WiFi access point directly to another WiFi access point without dropping the call?

    1. Yes, but not directly. “Bonded” calling will move the call to Cellular data for the time you are between AP’s.
      Your call will not drop nor will it move to the cellular voice network unless you have poor cellular (data) coverage at the time.

        1. Yes. The cost is included in your $10.00 monthly unlimited “talk and text” plan.

          So, to be fair, you are already paying for the extra data it will use.

          If you have the $5.00 a month plan, this will not work.

  8. This is great work. But I’d also like to see when a call has used Bonded Calling. What and where is the indicator that a call has used Bonded Calling. Will it show up in the call log, where it used to indicate if a call was wifi or cell?

      1. I think what he is asking is similar to what I had posted below, and that is, are there any INDICATORS that shows if you call is on the VoID (data) stream. Or in other words, in the past the dialer would only show if your call was on either cell or wifi, is there now a 3rd indication for cell data on VoID?

  9. Only flaw I am seeing is that when phone tries to use a Wifi that appears open but the carrier requires a password (ie TWC, Optimum) and a call hangs up. I then have to go to settings and disable the Wifi so the call will go through. Any way around this?

    1. even prior to bonded calling the RW app should never try to route a call through a wifi network until AFTER the captive portal was bypassed. this works properly for me on the few captive-portal based networks i use (such as my work wifi where i must enter username/password on a web form).

      i think your issues with TWC and Optimum are somehow special – the system DOES avoid routing through blocked connections… so somehow on those networks part of the VoIP test muct be passing prior to logging in even if the full VoIP service cannot work until after logging in.

      it would be interesting to see a packet dump of your traffic when you experience this issue.

      to be clear: as is intended by RW, on wifi networks requiring web based logins (aka captive portals) my wifi will connect but remain dysfunctional. if i never log in to these networks (that is, i never open a browser and enter my username/password or click “i agree” to the terms of use) all calls work properly on cellular and the app NEVER tries to use the dysfunctional wifi connection. I’ve tested and confirmed this at the following locations:
      – Home Depot
      – Lowes
      – wifi at my place of work
      – McDonalds

      I don’t use any of these cable company wifi hotspots so i don’t know how they might behave differently – but it sure sounds like SOME traffic is getting through (e.g. VoIP registration) and OTHER traffic is not (e.g. actual voip voice data).

      have you opened a support ticket with RW on this? If not please do so (and do it from the phone itself so diagnostics info can be sent to RW automatically).

      -bit

      1. i HAVE HAD THIS PROBLEM OF DROPPED CALLS WHEN WIFI IS ENABLED SINCE since the KitKat “Upgrade”WHICH DEGRADED MY SERVICE ON MY GEN1 MOTO X

    2. i have the same problem!! there are a few places in town where my calls always drop due to my phone’s attempt to use the TWC wifi signal that it’s picking up from the mcdonald’s on the corner. it’s SO annoying! i also have to quickly disable wifi if I want to continue the conversation. also if i am (as a passenger) using a data connection on my phone in these spots, everything stops working until i disable wifi. can this be fixed??

  10. This software sounds great. Now, if only there was some way to get it with hardware that wasn’t 2.5 years old we’d really be cooking with gas. C’mon Republic!!!!!!!!!

  11. Sorry, but the “bonded calling” isn’t working for many. Not sure which update messed it all up, but now calls are coming in and can’t be switched to wifi – the screen to switch back says handoff to wifi, but the choice on the phone is a static picture, not a responding choice to be made.

    The latency is still bad between the phone and cell or wifi – roboting occurs a LOT which turns the call into a joke or a travesty depending on the situation.

    Republic isn’t helping people who are having problems, they are running us through a ridiculous amount of people to get TO any real troubleshooting and then it all has to be “scheduled” with you, taking time out of your day or taking energy away from those who just don’t have much and none to spare.

    Republic, wake up, your phone service isn’t all you’re saying it is for many.

    The best thing about Republic at the beginning was the price, which they now are changing and threatening to take away from those who bought their service FROM THE BEGINNING when it was ridiculously expensive to buy ANY of the phones, but the glitches and the lack of customer care are getting really old.

    1. Actually – Republic just one upped Project Fi on voice quality quite a bit. The voice quality/coverage on Project Fi does not improve in any way.
      With bonded calling we can now seamlessly roam in and out of WiFi covered buildings and into basements, and back onto the road with no issues.
      Project Fi only drops from WiFi to Cellular. Never transitions back to WiFi. So, if you are on a cellular call and move into a building that has poor cell coverage your call will drop/become choppy.

  12. Could this be the reason my phone no longer automatically signs into Wifi (without me re-entering the passwords) in other locations.

  13. Using the feminine pronoun as a gender neuter pronoun is just as weird as using the male pronoun, if not more distracting. Just use they/their as has been grammatically correct for literally centuries.

    Grats on improving cell quality, though. Good to see Republic continuing to enhance their service.

    1. It has not been correct grammar for centuries, and it is still debated as to whether it should be accepted now. Formal writing has historically said “just pick a gender and go with it”.
      FWIW, I’m an advocate of singular ‘they’ also.

      1. While formal writing authorities sometimes advise picking a gender, they just as often reassure the reader that it is just as well-known and well-used a practice to make use of the singular they. As for the assertion that it hasn’t been grammatically correct for centuries, I suggest reading up on works made by folks such as Caxton and Shakespeare, who both notably used the singular they as early as the 1400s.

        One thing is for certain, though: You will never read in a style guide that “she” is a gender neutral pronoun. It forms unnatural-sounding sentences that serve to distract the reader from the content. The use of “he” to refer to a person of nonspecific gender is well-known and accepted, to the point where it could be said that “he” no longer carries a strictly male connotation in these instances, whereas “she” does carry a female connotation.

        1. When I see an arbitrary “he or “she” I take it to mean a “for instance”. It does not distract me, why would it? it’s no different than “let’s say someone, a female for instance, shouts [her] own name”. We all know there is no particular female. Similarly for “let’s say someone shouts [her] own name”. No more distracting than using the traditionally plural “they”:
          “I saw someone, and then saw their family. I went to their house.” – who’s house, the person or the family? How is that any less “unnatural sounding” than using “her”, which would make this a non-issue?

          Anyway, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that a historical example of unorthodox grammar does not make it formally correct.

          Also, of course “she” isn’t gender-neutral. That’s assuming the conclusion (begging the question). Using a gender neutral pronoun is not the only way to accomplish the actual task, which is to use a pronoun in a scenario where gender is arbitrary.

  14. The biggest problem I have with RW is RW phone to RW phone. Calls go through 1 out of 3 tries. Hard to hear, hard to understand. Has not got any better lately. Not a great thing when your son gets in an auto accident.

  15. There is no measure on the vertical axis showing the # of tickets by week. The graph could demonstrate total insignificance, e.g., tickets when down from 1482 to 1476, or absolute magnificence, e.g., tickets went down from 10,000 to 10.

  16. I have TWC at work and at Home and MotoX Gen 1 phone. Anytime I “receive” a phone call on wifi, when I connect there is around 10 second delay before I can talk. Sometimes it never connects and I have to call back. Never does this when I’m driving or in Cell range. Kind of annoying since I keep saying “Hello, Hello…. until finally the caller can hear me. Any suggestions?

  17. I do most of my calling at home using the new Fios wifi and if I’m not in the right space my calls go in and out. I called Verizon and ordered a new WIFI modem which is much stronger, but I still have garbled phone calls. What is the problem ? When I first went with Republic I had no problem, now its terrible. HELP!

  18. Us Moto E 1st Gen users are still waiting for Republic to “check off the list” the latest Android upgrade on our phones. It would be nice if it was done before our phones die.

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