Over the past few years, numerous telecom providers from around the world have implemented Wi-Fi calling (VoWiFi) on their individual networks. Jio, Airtel, and Vi (previously Vodafone Idea) all enable the function in India, whereas all of the major carriers in the US, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, allow consumers to make Wi-Fi calls. In what way does Wi-Fi calling actually operate? We will specifically inform you that in this article.
What is Wi-Fi Calling and How Does it Affect You?
Wi-Fi calling is supported by underlying technology that has been around for a while. However, telecom providers have only lately begun implementing it on their networks. What exactly is Wi-Fi calling and why should you be concerned? We’ll cover that in this article and demonstrate how to make Wi-Fi calls on an iPhone or Android device. Let’s start now without further ado.
What is Wi-Fi Calling?
Wi-Fi calling, as the name suggests, is a function that enables users to place phone calls using Wi-Fi rather than a cellular connection. Instead of using a cell tower, it uses IP networks to connect phone calls via the internet. That might entail accessing your home’s Wi-Fi or any other Wi-Fi hotspot you can access when you are out and about, including at a café or library.
The technology, also referred to as Phone over Wi-Fi (VoWIFi), enables users to place and receive voice calls even when there is no cellular connectivity. You can contact a mobile phone or a landline number as long as there is a Wi-Fi hotspot that the phone can connect to. An additional prerequisite for Wi-Fi calling is a VoLTE-capable handset, which is now widely available thanks to the introduction of 4G a few years ago.
Wi-Fi calling is essentially the same for the user as making a standard phone call without the use of a third-party programme. Since the technology is essentially the same as VoLTE, the authentication, call connection, and call routing all operate as normal calls. VoWiFi, however, makes the call utilising a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot rather than the carrier’s cellular network.
While VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and VoWiFi have several characteristics, their implementations are different in key crucial ways. It differs from VoWLAN, or VoIP over a Wi-Fi network, in another way.
How Does Wi-Fi Calling Work?
The Generic Access Network, or GAN, protocol serves as the foundation for Wi-Fi calling. Itext allows communication over the internet, eschewing cellular networks completely, by extending mobile voice and data applications over Internet Protocol networks. In essence, GAN makes it possible to forward cellular communication packets to a network access point over the internet as opposed to over the air utilising cellular networks.
VoWiFi, in contrast to VoIP calls, can only be used if your carrier and phone both enable the capability. That is not how conventional VoIP apps operate. The carrier or the device do not need to provide any additional support for the VoIP apps. You can make VoIP calls to anyone using the same app as long as one is offered for your platform. That’s why programmes like WhatsApp, Google Duo, or Skype let you call just about anyone with a smartphone.
Difference Between Wi-Fi Calling and VoIP
VoIP does not ever route communications through the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or traditional telephone service; instead, voice data packets are transferred over the Internet. VoWiFi establishes a phone line over the PSTN by connecting to your carrier via the Internet as opposed to a cell tower.
The greatest difference between Wi-Fi calling and VoIP services, from the user’s perspective, is that the former allows you to make and receive calls using your phone number, whereas a third-party VoIP service necessitates that you join up separately. Compared to VoIP services like Skype, WhatsApp, or Google Duo, VoWiFi allows carriers more technological control.
Advantages of Wi-Fi Calling
Works in Spotty Network Locations
The main benefit of Wi-Fi calling is that it will enable you to stay in contact with your loved ones no matter how poor the local mobile connection is. Users are able to make regular phone calls by connecting to a Wi-Fi network rather than a cell phone tower thanks to this technology, which is accessible on the majority of the world’s main mobile networks. Even in places where there is poor network coverage, it enhances voice quality.
Extends Battery Life
The ability to increase the battery life of your phone is another benefit of this technology. Continuously trying to connect to a cellular network can quickly deplete your phone’s battery, especially in places with spotty or poor reception. Wi-Fi calling, however, uses less battery power. It joins one Wi-Fi network and stays connected till you disengage from it. It doesn’t have to look for networks all the time, which increases battery efficiency.
No Additional Charges
Wi-Fi calling also often has no added costs, which is an advantage. Wi-Fi calls on US networks are often included by the monthly voice plan, though specifics vary depending on the company policy and governmental laws. However, unless you have an unlimited phone plan, calls may count toward your minutes even though it doesn’t require any additional services or special plans.
No Third-party App Required
Finally, because VoWiFi uses your regular phone number, no additional application is required. Therefore, you can make phone calls without downloading a separate software. Additionally, the service doesn’t demand a lot of bandwidth, often only 1MB for phone calls and 5-10MB for video calls each minute. However, the audio and video quality of your Wi-Fi conversations (resolution like 720p vs 1080p vs 4K, bitrate, etc.) determines the precise amount of data use.
Disadvantages of Wi-Fi Calling
When compared to conventional cell calls, Wi-Fi calling does have a few drawbacks. VoWiFi experiences the same hiccups and latency problems as VoIP calls because it uses the internet to route phone calls. The voice quality may degrade if numerous people are utilising the same Wi-Fi hotspot due to slower internet connections, which are especially true. Typically, it takes place in busy areas like stadiums or airports.
When making Wi-Fi calls, faulty network connections may potentially cause echoes or delays. When utilising VoWiFi for video calls, the lag is extremely obvious. This is why, if you are in an area with good cellphone reception, it is advisable to stick to making traditional calls. Although this feature is free, several carriers count these calls against their subscribers’ allotted minutes. Additionally, even if the actual usage is rather minimal, it uses Wi-Fi data.
Hardware and Software Requirements
As you are already aware, Wi-Fi calling is independent of any external applications. It does, however, necessitate assistance from your carrier and the device’s maker. The majority of international telecom networks offer the feature. Technically, most LTE devices can have it activated with a software update, but baseband support is also required.
Over the past few years, the majority of the main smartphone manufacturers have also released updates to their products that enable the capability. Many smartphones like Samsung, Nokia, Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus, and Oppo now allow Wi-Fi calling. You can look at a few of the gadgets available in India that offer Wi-Fi calling. Due to the fact that practically all modern smartphones enable the feature, take notice that this is not a comprehensive list.
Carrier Support in the US, India, and Around the World
All four of the country’s major carriers—Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint—offer built-in capability for Wi-Fi calling. On a few devices, Republic Wireless and Google Project Fi also provide VoWiFi. While Google uses T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, Republic Wireless relies on Sprint in the event that the link goes down.
The proposal for public Wi-Fi callingback was authorised by the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) in India in 2018. Leading telecom service providers in the nation, including Jio, Airtel, and Vi (formerly Vodafone-Idea), have since brought out the service on their own networks as a result of that ruling.
The following top telecommunications companies provide Wi-Fi calling on their networks:
- USA: At&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Metro PCS, Ting, C Spire, Simple Mobile, GCI, Appalachian Wireless
- India: Jio, Airtel, Vi (pronounced we )
- Austria: A1
- Belgium: Telenet
- Czech Republic: T-Mobile, Vodafone
- Denmark: 3, TDC, Telenor
- France: Orange, Bouygues
- Germany: O2, Telekom, Vodafone
- Greece: Cosmote
- Ireland: Eir
- Liechtenstein: Swisscom
- Netherlands: Vodafone
- Norway: Telia, Telenor
- Poland: Orange, Play, T-Mobile
- Romania: Orange
- Spain: Orange
- Sweden: 3
- Switzerland: Salt, Swisscom, Sunrise
- Turkey: Turkcell, Vodafone
- United Kingdom: 3, O2, Vodafone, EE
- Australia: Optus, Telstra
- Hong Kong: 3, SmarTone, 1O1O and CSL, China Mobile Hong Kong
- Malaysia: Digi, U Mobile
- Singapore: Singtel
- Taiwan: APT, FarEasTone
- Thailand: AIS, True Move, dtac
- Argentina: Claro
- Brazil: Claro, Vivo
- Panama: +M vil
- Puerto Rico: AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Wireless
- U.S. Virgin Islands: AT&T, Sprint Wireless
- South Africa: CellC, Vodacom
- Israel: Partner
- Saudi Arabia: Zain
- United Arab Emirates: Etisalat
Despite not being an exhaustive list, this one should give you an idea of how pervasive technology has become in recent years.
How to Enable Wi-Fi Calling on iPhone and Android
In the US, Europe, and India, the majority of the main carriers provide Wi-Fi calling at no extra cost. By heading to Settings -> Phone app -> Wi-Fi Calling -> Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone, you can enable the feature on your iPhone. Turn on the adjacent button to start using voice calls over the Internet.
The precise process for turning on the function varies from smartphone to smartphone for Android devices. Go to Settings -> Connections -> Wi-Fi Calling -> SIM1 or SIM2 -> toggle on Wi-Fi Calling, for instance, on Samsung smartphones running OneUI.
VoWiFi may be enabled on OnePlus smartphones by going to Settings -> WiFi and Internet -> SIM and network settings -> SIM. Numerous smartphones made by Nokia, Xiaomi, and Realme also support Wi-Fi calling. Check out how to activate Wi-Fi calling on any iPhone or Android device to learn more.
VoWiFi: Stay Connected in Areas With Spotty Cellular Coverage
With the help of Wi-Fi calling, also known as VoWiFi, you may communicate with your loved ones even when there is poor cellular coverage. Check out some of our other in-depth articles on the most recent cellular and Wi-Fi standards, such as Wi-Fi 6E and 5G networks, now that you are more informed about it. If your phone or carrier does not enable Wi-Fi calling, you can also look at the top VoIP apps for Android and iOS. Finally, look at the top iPhone and Android call recorder apps.