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Let Us Formally Get You Introduced To Wi-Fi Calling

24 Mar, 2017
Let Us Formally Get You Introduced To Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling as a technology, is quite a muddled concept. It’s not new, but is vaguely there in people’s heads. Others confuse it to mean nothing new, as it sounds a lot like calling people while on Wi-Fi. It’s not!

A lot of people confuse it with the voice and video calling facilities that apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp already provide. Wrong!

Let us help you understand what it really is, right here, right now.

First up, Wi-Fi Calling is different from Skype or other apps in the sense that while it does utilise a wireless network instead of using the carrier’s telecom network to make calls, it does so using your regular GSM/CDMA mobile number.

Second, you can call people on their phone numbers instead of their Skype ID etc. So, it integrates into your regular calling workflow beautifully – you may not even have to alter the process of calling someone in any way.

Third, Wi-Fi Calling is a hybrid product that melts together the Wi-Fi and GSM/CDMA network so that calls initiated on one of the technologies can shift to the other technology automatically, should you lose network/connectivity on the originating technology. We’ll cover this a bit later in the article.

Fourth, Wi-Fi calling needs to be supported by your Telco (you’ll see why a little later in this article). Most flagship phones from major brands have Wi-Fi calling services baked in, out of the box.

Fifth, you may use your regular phone dialer for making the calls – no need to fire up a third party app (like like Skype and WhatsApp) to make the call!

What’s the benefit, you ask?

Well, calls are free, by and large – though there may be some riders from your savvy telco’s side. Verizon in the U.S. for example makes all Wi-Fi calls to U.S. numbers free, even while travelling internationally, but not calls to any other countries.

Telecom companies these days, are embracing Wi-Fi calling themselves, perhaps because they want to scale up their network coverage and provide greater user experience to their customers.

If you’re in a country that Wi-Fi Calling has been enabled by your Telecom carrier, you can set Wi-Fi Calling as the default mode of placing a call – so you’ll save on telecom bills, as well as ensure that you don’t drop calls if the phone loses signal.

We’ve all been in situations during in our lifetime where we were in desperate need of carrier network to make a call but couldn’t. Life made easy right?

Also, again since the service is baked into the phone unlike third party apps, you don’t need to update your contact list on a third party app (like you have to with Viber or Skype where you actually need your friend’s Skype ID).

The best part – since you’re calling your friend on her regular phone number, she can receive your Wi-Fi call without downloading any third party app!

If these aren’t reasons enough for you to believe that Wi-Fi Calling is way better than telecom network based calling, then let me put it out this here – you can save money!
You can save your precious Data plans and live like a boss even when you are broke.

The most interesting part in Wi-Fi calling for me, is that you could commence your calls at home or office, using the Wi-Fi network, and then step out to your car or for a coffee, and the call will seamlessly transfer to a 4G telecom network! The hidden lynchpin in this is that your network needs to support VoLTE (also called 4G Voice). And those networks are becoming available in more and more locations and countries.

Before I forget, such calls will be able to easily transition back to Wi-Fi too, when you return to the Wi-Fi umbrella.

I can hear the question from you – How is this different from something like FaceTime Audio? Well, not very much, exactly. Except that on FaceTime Audio, you’re running on Wi-Fi, and then 4G Data when outdoors. 4G Data is sometimes not as abundantly available as 4G Voice. So you may lose the FaceTime Audio call in some cases (and will definitely experience buffering/stuttering as you make the transition between calling technologies). With Wi-Fi Calling none of that should happen, ideally.

So, imagine this – you’re getting out of office, running late, an old friend calls from overseas. You can still get out of the office if you’re on Wi-Fi Calling. Once you reach home, the call will automatically switch to your home’s Wi-Fi network – no interruptions!

In fact, the very fact that you can make calls even within a weak carrier coverage area is reason enough to start using Wi-Fi calling!

There are four major carriers in U.S. that provide built-in Wi-Fi Calling. These include the likes of T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. But these services are also reaching other providers like Republic Wireless and Google Project Fi.
Bear in mind, all these carriers provide Wi-Fi Calling only on certain, specific phones.

Republic Wireless carries nine Android handsets, T-Mobile has 27 smartphones that support this option. As for Sprint, Wi-Fi calling is available on a number of iPhone models that run iOS 9.1 or higher. Several Android devices have the service as well, but you’ll need to go through your handset’s Settings menu once to see if your device is eligible or not.
AT&T offers Wi-Fi calling for eight handsets, while Verizon has 14 phone in its Wi-Fi lineup.

India will hopefully get the same love soon, but only through Reliance Jio.
Jio is the only Indian telco whose network is built on VoLTE technology (since it just built it’s entire network ground-up) and thus carries true 4G i.e. 4G Voice and 4G Data.
Others like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are saddled with old world technology that only delivers 4G Data (and not 4G Voice) as they are built on costly legacy 2G circuit switched networks).
So, if you’re in India, there’s another reason to consider getting on to Jio – though I’d wait a bit, considering Jio’s immense network issues that are currently plaguing it’s network’s calling capabilities. I not being cheeky! Baby steps, is all I’m saying.

Hopefully, this (rather long) tutorial helped!