A definition of Wi-Fi calling
Wi-Fi calling gives Android and iPhone users the ability to make and receive calls using a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi calling is also possible on iOS devices that support iCloud accounts. This feature doesn't require a separate application or log-in. Rather, it is a free service for calling a number in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. It’s important to note that if you're Wi-Fi calling an international phone number, international rates will apply.
Specifically, Wi-Fi calling is a carrier-based technology that utilizes SIP/IMS. With SIP/IMS, smartphone users make and receive phone calls over a regular Wi-Fi network. Rather than traditional carrier-based calls, Wi-Fi calls route voice packets through the internet to and across the network to whomever you speak. Simply put, Wi-Fi calling enables you to talk without relying on a cell tower. Not all carriers support Wi-Fi calling. But those that do deliver better quality calls to their customers.
Wi-Fi calling versus VoIP apps
Apps and social services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger offer Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP). However, Wi-Fi calling with a cellular network is different because it is part of your phone’s dialer. This means you don't need to download extra apps or subscribe to extra services in order to place wireless calls using your smartphone. As a built-in feature, Wi-Fi calling also saves you time because your contacts are automatically included. All in all, utilizing Wi-Fi calling requires little effort.
Tips for turning on Wi-Fi calling
Most of the major network carriers in the United States support wireless calling. You don't need to install anything to enable it. In fact, the steps for enabling Wi-Fi calling vary depending on the type of phone being used. In most cases, turning on Wi-Fi calling entails visiting your phone settings to select Wi-Fi calling. iPhone users should go to Settings > Phone > WiFi calling, while Android users need to go to Settings > Network > Call to toggle it on. After updating your settings, just dial the phone number you want to call to place a Wi-Fi call.
You may need to contact your carrier to verify that you can use location data. In most cases, wireless calling requires an address for 911 calls. You'll be prompted to enter one the first time you enable the service. It is recommended you supply the address at which you spend the majority of your time or at which you will most often use Wi-Fi calling.
After you turn on Wi-Fi calling, your smartphone will auto-switch to this wireless service if your cell service is weak or disabled. Your phone will also auto-route your calls to an open Wi-Fi network. You just need to make sure that you have access to Wi-Fi.
Benefits of Wi-Fi calling
While 4G LTE coverage has expanded, there are still some areas where people have weak or no cell service. In these areas, Wi-Fi calling is a fantastic alternative that delivers coverage to customers who struggle to place cellular calls. Better yet, many network carriers do not charge extra fees for Wi-Fi calls. Rather, it counts against your minutes or mobile plan in much the same way that traditional cellular calls do. It's is also a helpful option for international travelers, because typically it doesn't include roaming or international charges when making calls or texting family and friends back in the United States. Of course, it's always in your best interests to check with your carrier for restrictions or charges associated with Wi-Fi calling.