Canada's Rogers has been offering UMA on a selection of BlackBerry models to end users for some time, but the technology never seems to have fully caught on anywhere in the world -- which is strange, considering how awesome the concept of seamless WiFi-to-cellular call transitions might sound. Both manufacturers (particularly outside RIM) and carriers have approached it very, very cautiously, but here's a positive sign that it'll be around for a while: Rogers has just launched Wi-Fi Calling for Business, essentially a B2B-flavored version of its existing service that lets suits tack on UMA to their business calling plans starting at CAD $10 (about $10) a month. Rogers claims that "a broad array of handsets from the major device manufacturers, including most current BlackBerry device models, are dual mode and support UMA," though we think that might be reaching a bit -- the carrier's official WiFi calling FAQs only list a selection of nine BlackBerry models on the compatibility list. Then again, this is a business-focused feature... so a bunch of BlackBerrys isn't the worst thing in the world, we suppose.

Show full PR text
Rogers launches Canada's First Wi-Fi Smartphone Service for Business

TORONTO, March 11 /PRNewswire/ - In business, every minute and every dollar counts. To address the need for reliable and cost effective connectivity, Rogers Communications Inc. today announced that it is launching Canada's first Wi-Fi voice service for smartphones based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), helping business customers save time and money.

Rogers exclusive new Wi-Fi Calling for Business lets business owners and employees place mobile calls from their smartphones over Wi-Fi networks registered on their devices. The service is available starting at $10 per month as an add-on to existing Rogers Business Voice Plans. With the $10 per month add-on, customers can make calls over the Wi-Fi network that won't count towards monthly voice plan minutes. Calls that originate on a Wi-Fi network are automatically transferred to the Rogers 3G wireless network when the person leaves the Wi-Fi coverage area.

"Business owners are constantly battling to try and reign in costs," says Jon Arnold, industry analyst, J. Arnold & Associates. "Wi-Fi calling is a smart and simple way to make your business voice communications dollars work better for you. It's nice to see companies like Rogers thinking like a customer and bringing services like this to market."

Rogers Wi-Fi Calling for Business is based on UMA, a technology already embedded in many handsets today, including a variety of BlackBerry models. UMA-enabled handsets can access the cellular network through Wi-Fi, which lets customers automatically switch from their office Wi-Fi networks from the same smartphone and number. UMA also helps boost coverage in places like basements where cellular network coverage may not be as strong.

"Our business customers are telling us they need flexible connectivity that just works - no matter where they are. And they want it at a predictable, competitive price," says Gordon Stein, Vice President, Business Segment, Rogers Communications Inc. "With this service, business people can be confident that all of their calls will be clear as they move seamlessly from registered internal Wi-Fi systems to the Rogers 3G network. This combination of flexibility and cost certainty is a powerful advantage for growing businesses."

Rogers has made Wi-Fi Calling for Business easy for small business customers to add to their existing plans. Those customers with a voice-grade Wi-Fi network and a compatible BlackBerry smartphone can call and speak to a Rogers Live Agent to add Rogers Wi-Fi Calling for Business to any existing Business Voice Plan starting at $10 per month for unlimited local calling when in a Wi-Fi area.

Rogers offers scalable Wi-Fi Calling for Business services for mid-size and enterprise customers. Customers can speak with their Rogers sales representatives for more information.

For additional details about Rogers Wi-Fi Calling for Business, please visit www.rogers.com/wifibusiness. For information about Rogers Live Agent service, please visit www.rogers.com/liveagent.

Rogers Communications Inc.
Rogers Communications is a diversified Canadian communications and media company. We are Canada's largest provider of wireless voice and data communications services and one of Canada's leading providers of cable television, high-speed Internet and telephony services. Through Rogers Media we are engaged in radio and television broadcasting, televised shopping, magazines and trade publications, and sports entertainment. We are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RCI). For further information about the Rogers group of companies, please visit www.rogers.com.