Are you curious about Wi-Fi calling? Although services like Skype and WhatsApp have been offering voice over IP (VOIP) calling for a long time, this technology is just beginning to catch on in the mainstream. You’ll be seeing this service integrated with cellular calling even more in the future, so now is a good time to brush up on what Wi-Fi calling is all about.
What Is Wi-Fi Calling?
Image via Flickr by wocintechchat.com
Wi-Fi calling lets you make voice calls using your internet connection instead of your carrier’s network. You can make a Wi-Fi call anywhere you have an internet connection, such as your home, a café, or a library. Unlike with VOIP services, the call uses your regular phone and phone number to make the call. You don’t need to launch an app, and the person you’re calling will see you as the caller just like a regular cellular call.
Why Is It Useful?
There are places where it’s tough to get a cellular signal. Some people who live in high-rise apartments have trouble making calls from their homes, for instance, and basements and rural areas can be dead zones as well. If your phone doesn’t get a signal inside your home, you may have been paying for a landline as well as Wi-Fi and cellular service. Integrating Wi-Fi calling can let you eliminate that extra bill.
How Fast Does My Connection Need to Be?
You’ll have a better calling experience on a faster network, but most providers can support a call with a connection of 1 Mbps or more. At lower speeds, you’ll experience delays, feedback, or dropped calls. The good news is that Wi-Fi calling doesn’t require as fast a connection as video calling over the internet.
Can I Use Wi-Fi Calling While Traveling?
Wi-Fi calling is especially useful for travelers. Even without an international calling plan, you can make a call from any cafe or hotel with internet service. That means travelers who are able to schedule their calls for convenient times can call home or tend to business without changing their SIM card or paying for international calls — if your plan supports international Wi-Fi calling.
For instance, T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling plan lets you place and receive Wi-Fi calls between more than 140 countries for free. Some other carriers charge for international Wi-Fi calls outside the U.S.
How Do I Use Wi-Fi Calling?
When Wi-Fi calling is integrated with your cellular plan, your phone will automatically switch to Wi-Fi whenever you don’t have a strong cellular signal. This should happen seamlessly if your phone is set up properly. Check with your carrier if you have any questions.
The calls and messages that you send or receive will appear in your history just like any other calls or texts. You may never realize that you’ve switched signals unless you happen to notice that the icon has changed from your usual bars to a Wi-Fi icon.
How Do I Set Up My Phone for Wi-Fi Calling?
If you have an iPhone 5c or later, you can toggle Wi-Fi Calling on or off under Settings> Phone.
On most Android phones, you can find the Wi-Fi calling option by opening the Phone app, tapping the Menu icon, and going into the Settings area from there.
What Else Should I Know?
You should check with your carrier to make sure you understand how Wi-Fi calls are handled. If you don’t have an unlimited plan, your carrier might deduct Wi-Fi calls from your overall minutes. You can test your settings by switching to Airplane mode and then turning your Wi-Fi back on, leaving your cellular and data connections off, and try to make a call.
You can also use this trick to force your phone into Wi-Fi calling mode when traveling, to make sure you’re not racking up roaming or data charges. If you have any trouble with your Wi-Fi calling, your carrier should be able to help you resolve them.
Wi-Fi calling is a popular feature that’s being integrated with many calling plans because it allows carriers to offer you connectivity when their signal is weak at no real cost to the carrier. This is an option that will probably expand even further in the future.