If your home or office has spotty mobile coverage, Wi-Fi calling is a convenient solution that can make your life a lot easier. Here you will find everything you need to know about calling via WiFi and how to get started.
Voice calls over WiFi
As the name suggests, Wi-Fi calling or VoWiFi (short for Voice over Wi-Fi) is a feature that allows you to make calls or text messages over Wi-Fi.
Calling via WiFi and the Internet is nothing new. We have been using apps and services such as Skype and WhatsApp for years to send messages or make calls over the internet. But what sets Wi-Fi calling apart from these apps is only the medium of last-mile connectivity. Everything else remains the same. Instead of using a cellular service to send or receive voice calls from the carrier’s network, your phone uses Wi-Fi. You still use the same dialer, texting app, and contact list. Everything works seamlessly.
Once you activate the Wi-Fi calling option on your smartphone, it will be activated automatically when your cellular service is limited or unavailable. All your calls and texts are routed over WiFi. Depending on the carrier, your phone may even keep the Wi-Fi calling feature active when you’re in an area with good cellular service, but connected to a Wi-Fi network. It helps carriers reduce network congestion while providing you with better voice service.
However, when you go out of Wi-Fi range, calls and text messages switch back to the cellular network. This all goes smoothly and ideally you shouldn’t experience dropped calls or other issues as a result of the switch.
Why would you want it?
There are several benefits to using the Wi-Fi Calling feature on your smartphone. Most importantly, it allows you to make or receive calls even if you have poor or non-existent network coverage. So it can be useful if you live or work in an area with poor outdoor or indoor cell service.
Another advantage of Wi-Fi calling is that you don’t have to do anything but enable the feature. All your calls and text messages work as they would if you were using the cellular network. And since the feature is built right into the phone’s dialer, no additional downloads are required and all your contacts are available whether they’re calling over Wi-Fi or not.
More than that, you get better voice quality than calling with limited cellular service. Moreover, calling via WiFi does not even cost that much data. A typical voice call costs about 1 MB per minute. So assuming you have a decent internet plan and don’t talk for hours on end, you don’t have to worry about data charges.
Simply put, calling over Wi-Fi is a no-brainer. It has several advantages and will probably cost you nothing.
What does calling via WiFi need?
You primarily need three things to use Wi-Fi calling: a working Wi-Fi connection, a compatible smartphone, and a carrier that supports Wi-Fi calling. While a faster Internet connection is always better for high-quality voice calls, a data transfer rate of 1 Mbps is sufficient for solid call quality.
Wi-Fi calling was limited to certain high-end phones until a few years ago, but is now generally available. So if you have a smartphone that was purchased later than 2018, there is a good chance that it supports calling via WiFi. However, not all carriers support Wi-Fi calling on all smartphones. So it’s a good idea to check with your wireless carrier to see if they support Wi-Fi calling on your phone. Your phone manufacturer can also tell you if your phone supports Wi-Fi calling and if it works on your carrier.
Like device support, carrier support for Wi-Fi calling has expanded significantly in recent years. Beginning in 2022, all three major carriers in the US — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — and several regional carriers and MVNOs such as C-Spire, Cricket, Mint Mobile, Spectrum, Simple Mobile, and US Cellular will support the feature.
Enable Wi-Fi calling
It is quite easy to activate Wi-Fi calling on your smartphone. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling and enable the “Wi-Fi Calling on this iPhone” slider.
While the steps may vary slightly on phones from different manufacturers, you can usually activate Wi-Fi calling on Android by going to Phone app > Settings > Calls > Wi-Fi Calling.
You may also need to enter emergency location information in the United States to enable Wi-Fi calling. It is required to ensure that emergency services have your location to reach you when you call 911 using the Wi-Fi calling feature. In addition, certain carriers require the HD Voice and VoLTE features to be enabled for Wi-Fi calling to work.
You can read our guides on how to enable Wi-Fi calling on Android or iPhone for more detailed instructions. However, if you don’t see the Wi-Fi calling option on your smartphone, your carrier may not support it on your phone or you may need a software update. So make sure your phone is running the latest software to get the best experience.
Once Wi-Fi calling is enabled, Wi-Fi will be next to your carrier’s name on the notification screen. Some Android phones will instead have VoWiFi next to the network bars to indicate that Wi-Fi calling is active.
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Do you have to pay for calling via WiFi?
Calling via WiFi usually costs no extra costs. Calling over Wi-Fi costs the same as calling over a cellular service. The same goes for text messages. However, carriers generally have different rules for calling over Wi-Fi while roaming internationally. So before you go abroad, it is best to check with your carrier whether Wi-Fi calling is supported in the country you are visiting and how much it will cost you. In most cases, calling over Wi-Fi while roaming is cheaper or the same as using a cellular service.
Wi-Fi calling offers a win-win scenario for both consumers and providers. You get a better and consistent calling experience at no extra cost, and the carriers can increase their network capacity by offloading some of their voice traffic to Wi-Fi.
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