What is Wi-Fi calling?
Instead of using your mobile Operator network connection, users can make voice calls through a Wi-Fi network. That can include a Wi-Fi connection you have set up at home, or whatever Wi-Fi hotspot you happen to be on when you’re out and about, such as a cafe or library. In most ways, it’s like any other normal call, and you still use regular phone numbers.
Why would I want that?
Wi-Fi calling is especially useful when you’re in an area with weak Operator coverage. For example, when you’re traveling to the residential countryside, or you’re in a building with bad reception. You may already be familiar with using Wi-Fi to send messages when SMS texting is unavailable (apps like WhatsApp, Kik and Facebook Messenger provide these services) – and the same applies for when you’re trying to place a call. With Wi-Fi, you can call a friend from anywhere (assuming you can connect to the Wi-Fi, that is.)
Isn’t that what Skype does?
In a way, yes. There are various services including Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that provide what’s known under the umbrella term as “Voice over Internet” to make calls with either a Wi-Fi or data connection. Carrier-branded Wi-Fi calling is a bit different, however. It’s directly into the phone’s dialler, so you don’t need to fire up an app or connect to a service to use it. You can set it as your default way of placing a call, or if you lose phone signal, it will automatically switch to Wi-Fi calling.
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’ll 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, carrier Wi-Fi calling requires little effort to set up.
Does it cost more?
It doesn’t cost any extra as such, but making calls over Wi-Fi can come out of your regular minutes allowance depending on your Operator, your phone bundle and which country you’re calling to/from. If you’re running out of minutes, then using services like Skype or WhatsApp will help you avoid incurring any additional charges.
Can I use it while Roaming without paying huge amounts?
It depends. Some Operators lets you make and receive Wi-Fi calls for free between countries. Some customers won’t be charged for calls made to, from, or between countries within a certain free Roaming deal, but they will be charged “Roaming rates” for other countries. If you’re going abroad and want to keep in touch, its best to ask your Operator if they offer Wi-fi Calling for Roaming.
Do I need a fast Wi-Fi connection?
Though the higher throughput you have the better your connection will be, a minimum of 1Mbps should be enough to make a solid call through.