Ericsson jumps on the tetherless bandwagon

High speed train

Ericsson has released new VoLTE based core network multi-SIM voice call functionality, to essentially allow operators to offer voice services on multiple SIM-based devices.

Could this be the breakthrough which smartwatches needed to make the move out of the wannabe camp? We’re still sceptical, but it is certainly a step forward when it comes to one of the biggest criticisms of wearables; why have one when they need to be tethered to a smartphone?

“We continue building new useful services for our installed base of VoLTE networks, to enable our customers to launch innovative consumer and enterprise communication services,” said Monica Zethzon, Head of Product Management Communication Services at Ericsson.

“With the new Multi-SIM for voice calls functionality, we support operators launching new attractive devices, which can also make high-quality operator voice calls anywhere, using the subscriber’s mobile phone number.”

Multi-SIM for voice calls functionality allows a mobile operator to offer a one number solution for multiple SIM based devices. Whatever the wearable device, if it is compatible with the multi-SIM technology, you could now share the mobile phone number already belonging to an existing smartphone subscription.

The technology is being deployed in more than 10 Ericsson VoLTE-enabled operator networks in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific right now, but the team has highlighted the potential is much wider. For operators that have Ericsson VoLTE /IMS deployed, the team has said it is just a software upgrade to their network which will be needed.

In truth, there are more use cases to talk about with the breakthrough of this technology, but for some reason people seem fascinated by the smartwatch. Other examples include those diptsticks who might be more prone to losing or breaking things (your correspondent will put his hand up there). Devices which could act in place of a phone, while a person is waiting for a replacement, would be very useful. Or how about elderly people for connecting in case of emergency situations. There are numerous use cases.

The idea of being tethered to your smartphone has always been a useful stick for the nay-sayers of the limping smartwatch revolution. This is certainly an answer, but we still have doubts for the technology.

What about messaging apps. Talking to someone on your smartphone seems to be a product of a by-gone age, as messaging apps soar in popularity. Have you ever tried to type out a message or read a lengthy one on a smartwatch? It’s tough. Perhaps natural language processing or voice recognition software could bridge this gap, allowing the user to listen to and dictate the message, but these are features which haven’t been plugged yet.

There are other bridges which need to be crossed before the smartwatch can be considered mainstream, for instance, when are they going to be as attractive as normal watches? While the watch might have started off hundreds of years ago as a useful tool, it is much more of a fashion statement now. Another point which Light Reading’s Iain Morris mentioned a couple of weeks ago on the podcast, is youngsters aren’t really wearing watches anymore. The next generation are the ones who are likely to fuel this revolution, but if they have no need for a watch, maybe it’s a non-starter.

It might be a case of tackling one problem at a time, but at least with this technology the idea of multi-SIMs might catch on. Smartwatches have 99 problems, but a tether ain’t one.

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