In recent times, Wi-Fi calling seems to be a big focus by the mobile phone industry to tackle the problem of poor network coverage. Of course, network coverage has been steadily improving, but there are still many places around the world where people can’t get a decent phone signal, particularly in rural areas. That’s when Wi-Fi calling could be the smart answer.
Instead of relying on the cellular phone network, Wi-Fi calling and texting, which uses an available Wi-Fi network, allows you to place your call over the internet. Clearly, if you don’t have a cellular signal or trapped in an area with spotty phone signal, the ability to make Wi-Fi calls comes in handy. But what does it all mean? how does it work? Does it comes free? What carriers and smartphones support this feature? and how can I enable and use the feature? To help you make sense of what Wi-Fi calling actually is, we have put together a handy guide here. Read on to know!
What Is Wi-Fi Calling?
Instead of using a traditional mobile network connection, you can make and receive regular phone calls via a Wi-Fi network. That could mean using a Wi-Fi connection you have set up at home, or whatever Wi-Fi hotspot you happen to be on when you are out, such as at a cafe or library.
What is it’s Benefit?
This feature benefits those people in poor signal areas, such as rural villages and underground stations, as they will be able to harness the power of available Wi-Fi networks to stay connected. It’s also useful in locations with cellular dead zones.
For example, one of my nearest coffee shops has terrific Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the building it’s in has poor cellular coverage. But, I can still make a call from there, thanks to Wi-Fi Calling.
Doesn’t this already exist?
Wi-Fi calling is nothing new. There are various services including Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and Google Hangouts, that make it easier to make calls and send texts over the internet (through VoIP – voice over Internet Protocol) and forgo mobile networks altogether.
How is Wi-Fi Calling Different from others?
Carrier-branded Wi-Fi calling is different, however. It’s embedded directly into the phone’s dialer, so you don’t require any special log-in or third-party application to use it. Because the service is built in, that also means you don’t need to add contacts to a service as you do with Skype. You will have access to your existing phone book, and your friends can receive your Wi-Fi call without needing to download a third-party app. With no contacts to add, Wi-Fi calling requires little effort to set up.
What more? Unlike other third-party providers, all the calls you make and messages you send through Wi-Fi calling appear as normal in your usual messages app and call logs. The icon in your notification bar might change to a small phone receiver with a Wi-Fi icon above it, or say VoLTE, but, apart from that, you won’t notice any difference between Wi-Fi calls and regular calls through your mobile network.
How Wi-Fi Calling Works?
The beauty of Wi-Fi calling is that it could seamlessly switch your phone service between cellular and Wi-Fi when needed. When your phone loses its signal, the device automatically switches to the available Wi-Fi network and use that to make and receive calls, requiring no additional input – assuming your carrier supports this feature and you have activated the appropriate setting on your mobile device.
Remember that, although Wi-Fi calling is capable of handing over to the network if you move out of ‘Wi-Fi router’ range, there is a chance it will pause or drop the call. It depends on your carrier, network, and device.
What Carriers and Devices Support this Service?
All major cell phone carriers now support Wi-Fi calling, with support for the most recent iPhones (iOS 9.1 or higher) and Android phones.
In the US, all four major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) support Wi-Fi Calling, along with Metro PCS, Simple Mobile, and Vodafone US, among others.
“Sprint Wi-Fi calling is available on most recent Android devices and iPhones, starting with the iPhone 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus and 6s and 6s Plus with iOS software v8.3 and higher. T-Mobile offers 38 different phones with Wi-Fi calling, including recent iPhone models, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, the LG G5 and HTC 10. AT&T has rolled out Wi-Fi Calling to 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus with iOS software v9.0 and higher and is starting to roll out to Android devices, beginning with the LG G4. Verizon Wireless has rolled out Wi-Fi calling to 14 devices including the iPhone 6, 6s and 6s Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, HTC 10, LG G4 and G5,” according to techlicious.com.
Among the US carriers that don’t yet support the feature are Cricket, Straight Talk, and Virgin Mobile USA.
Carriers can also decide which devices they will support, so even if your phone is capable of Wi-Fi calling, you should confirm that the carrier allows it on your device. So, check your phone’s settings menu to see if it’s supported.
How to Enable Wi-Fi Calling?
Wi-Fi calling isn’t automatically enabled on smartphones.
To turn on Wi-Fi Calling on your iOS device, head to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling. Then toggle on “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone” option.
To turn on Wi-Fi Calling on your Android-based devices, head to your phone’s wireless and networking setting under the ‘More’ or ‘More Networks’ option and enable the ‘Wi-Fi Calling.’ Remember, setting up Wi-Fi Calling on Android-based devices differs slightly depending on the carrier, Android version, and phone you are using. You will generally find Wi-Fi settings under Settings > Networks > Call, where you can then toggle on Wi-Fi calling.
You can test whether Wi-Fi calling is working by activating Airplane mode, then turning just Wi-Fi back on, and connecting to your home Wi-Fi network. The icon should appear in your notification bar and you will be able to make or receive calls.
What does it cost?
Well, no additional charges need to be beared for using Wi-Fi Calling when placing calls and text domestically.
- Yes, there are some limitations to keep in mind, such as:
- Wi-Fi Calling doesn’t support TTY devices.
- International calls come with a charge.
- Premium rates still apply. For example, calls placed to 411.
- On a phone plan with limited minutes? Yes, these calls count towards this limit, even though you’re using Wi-Fi, not cellular.
- Wi-Fi calling isn’t supported in some countries, including Australia and China.
Now, no more worries about poor network signals, all thanks to Wi-Fi Calling. Just be sure your carrier and phone support the feature. If they do, be sure to enable the feature when setting up your phone.
What’s your opinion on Wi-Fi Calling? Let us know in the comments below.