Signal Boost – Just why is there no handover?

Signal Boost is something we’ve covered a few times here at Coolsmartphone. Put simply, it’ll route your mobile calls over the nearest WiFi hotspot at no extra charge. It’ll use your text, picture message and voice bundles so there’s no VoIP twiddling to do.

When we mentioned Orange Signal Boost back in March and last year we picked up on the fact that the “handover” wasn’t possible. What is this? Well, let me explain.

A lot of Orange handsets now have the Signal Boost technology. If you’re finding that your signal drops in a building, simply turn on your WiFi, hook into an access point and then enable Signal Boost – the phone will then route your calls via the WiFi. Effectively it turns that little router into a tiny mobile mast.


If you’ve made or received a call whilst hooked into the hotspot, it’ll drop when you walk outside because the “handover” doesn’t work.

Well, our friends at Kineto have set us straight on a few things. Firstly, it can be supported. Seamless bi-directional handover is supported in the UMA/GAN specification and it seems that early Kineto-enabled phones supported the handover function. Also, most RIM Blackberry’s still support handover today. It seems that Orange here in the UK and T-Mobile in the US decided not to require the handover function in Android phones using Signal Boost.

I know, you’re bound to ask. Why is this?

Well, there’s advantages to not supporting handover between WiFi and the standard GSM network. Firstly, it reduces costs on development and testing, which means there’s more phones out there with Signal Boost. Secondly, you get more WiFi coverage without handover enabled – we’ve been told twice as much coverage.

However, the research shows that people weren’t actually that bothered about handover. So, there you go.

Links – What is Signal Boost?