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Smart taps Samsung for VoWi-fi launch in Oct.

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SMART Communications, Inc. is partially rolling out next month its Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-fi) call over a live network service for users of the latest Samsung devices, it said on Wednesday.

The PLDT, Inc. subsidiary said it had partnered with Samsung for its VoWi-fi technology launch, which will come once the phone manufacturer unveils its latest firmware over-the-air update.

“Soon, Smart customers can make VoWi-fi calls using Samsung smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, Galaxy S9 and S9+, Note 8, and Note 9 via any Wi-fi connection like Smart Wi-fi and PLDT Home Wi-fi,” it said.

VoWi-fi is Smart’s latest technology that lets users make a call or send a text through a mobile phone’s native dialer using a Wi-Fi connection.

“In addition to constantly innovating to be able to deliver more services to our customers, we are also happy to be working hand-in-hand with device manufacturers like Samsung in bringing technologies like VoWi-fi closer to our subscribers,” Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice-president for network planning and engineering, said in the statement.

Smart also offers an expanded network coverage, which will let users make video calls aside from voice calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

“Wi-fi calling will also be available soon to other select Samsung devices,” it said.

For his part, Samsung Philippines business unit head for IT and Mobile Jerry Mañus said, “We are excited as we take part in this new endeavor to shape the future of communication in the Philippines.”

Smart said in April it was able to make its first VoWi-fi call in Manila with help from its technology partner Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Its parent company PLDT made a $28.5-million deal with Huawei at the start of the year to develop its wireless services.

Smart also made breakthroughs last year with its Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) mobile call, which uses LTE or fourth generation (4G) network to make calls.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez