In the world of telecommunications and speedy connectivity, Wi-Fi calling is another element that can enhance communication among people.
It is proving to be a very good option especially if you are someone who needs to go to places where calling via conventional cellular networks is problematic (e.g in basements or in areas whereby cellular coverage is non-existent).
Daily cellular network problems – for example, when you are travelling in a train or using the subway, or if your office is in the basement where tower signals are weak – pose a serious issue when you need to have a functional mobile phone.
Wi-Fi calling will facilitate and improve the way you communicate with people.
What is Wi-Fi calling?
As the name implies, this technology enables calls to be made over Wi-Fi. You might be thinking about Skype, Viber, Whatsup, Facebook messenger etc which allow voice calls over the Internet, but in this article we will be talking about a different category of WiFi calling.
The WiFi calling feature we will be talking about here does not need a separate app (like one of the above-mentioned apps) to make a WiFi call. Instead, the functionality is embedded inside the smartphone and allows you to switch over to cellular network if needed.
The requirement to use such a WiFi calling feature is that the smartphone must have this feature embedded natively inside the phone and also you must be a subscriber of a cellular provider that supports such a feature.
With Wi-Fi hotspots becoming so prevalent, users can simply make or receive phone calls by using the Wi-Fi connectivity of the place, rather than using the cellular provider’s network. Not only calls, but users can also send text messages using this technology.
Since the phone call is independent of whether the user is near or far from a cell tower, the connectivity has proven to be a boon for reliable, fast, and wider coverage, all facilitated by the wireless connection or the Wi-Fi hotspot.
All that one needs to do is to enable Wi-Fi calling on her or his phone. Remember, your smartphone might not have the feature of Wi-Fi calling. Your phone must also have HD voice calling features. Here are the steps to enable Wi-Fi calling if your phone supports it:
- Connect your phone to the Wi-Fi.
- Go onto Settings of your phone to select Wi-Fi Calling
- On an iPhone, the Wi-Fi Calling needs to be slid to green, and the “enable” button pressed.
- On an Android phone, you need to go to Networks & Internet, choose Mobile Network, and switch on Wi-Fi calling.
Wi-Fi works using SIP/IMS technology where the internet is the basis of getting the call routed and connected. It is exactly similar to a conventional phone call, except, in this case, it is the wireless connection and not the cellular towers that connects the call.
No apps are required to get the job done. You also do not have to sign in anywhere for Wi-Fi calling. If your provider supports this (all major cellular providers in the USA offer this) you can use it without any extra subscription but it will consume from your call minutes (just like a cellular phone call).
But just like every other next-gen technology, Wi-Fi calling too has its own set of merits and drawbacks.
Here are a few pros and cons of Wi-Fi calling.
Pros of Wi-Fi calling
1. The quality of the call is comparable or better to regular cell call
Wi-Fi follows quality wireless standards that come with a high-speed connection. Most of us are online, thanks to the seamless connectivity offered by this technology.
As mentioned before, Wi-Fi has elevated communication to a completely different plane when it comes to browsing or being in touch with close ones.
Wi-Fi calling works on the same quality. Thus, when you compare the call quality between a conventional phone call that works on the cellular operator’s network and Wi-Fi calling, you find that the latter is at least the same or even superior.
Especially if you have HD voice enabled on your phone (and the cellular provider supports this), then WiFi calling will use High Definition voice which will be much better than regular phone calls.
2. Call anywhere or any time, free of charge (most of the time)
Just like you can connect to Wi-Fi and browse anywhere and everywhere, you can do the same with calling. The only criterion is that your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. With the instant calling feature of Wi-Fi calling, you are always accessible.
Although the subscription to the service is usually free, some carriers charge you from your available call minutes when using WiFi calling.
3. You have service in areas where cellular is not available
If you are in an area with WiFi (such as basement, subway, train, cruise ship etc) then WiFi calling will still give you access to phone communication.
4. It beats conventional phone calling which is dependent on the cellular tower reception quality
Wi-Fi calling is proving to be a big advantage for people who live in areas where cellular signals are weak.
This is because Wi-Fi calling does not depend on proximity to cellular towers, or the reception powers of the towers. Being a strong alternative to conventional cellular calls, Wi-Fi calling is all about convenience.
5. Instant connectivity; no hardware or software required
Wi-Fi calling gets you connected immediately. You don’t need to take a new number or download an app, a separate hardware piece, or recharge with a special plan. With the Wi-Fi call option, you can also save on your battery charge as it requires less battery.
6. Can receive calls on your existing number
Not only can you make outgoing calls, you can also receive calls on your existing cellular phone number.
Cons of Wi-Fi Calling
1. Your data plan could be a cause of worry.
Unless your data plan consists of unlimited bandwidth, you are going to use a lot of data and pay for it.
A typical call takes about 1MB of data every call minute, while a video call takes about 6 to 8 MB every minute.
Also, if you are using your office or home Wi-Fi to make the call, remember, if the connection starts to fail or weakens, your mobile data would be automatically consumed for the call.
2. You might have to change your device
This is a functional problem. Your existing phone may not have a built-in Wi-Fi calling feature because this is one of the latest innovations and will not function on a basic phone.
Though most modern devices come with this feature, you will need to change the device if it does not have the option.
3. Lagging-related issues
You could experience network lags, especially in public places like airports, hotels, or railway stations. The more the crowd, the higher will be the lagging and disturbance.
You might also experience a delay during the conversation, due to varying signal strength and delayed data transfer.
Wi-Fi calling is definitely one of the useful technologies for phone calls. You just need to ensure that the signal is strong and consistent to connect and call locally or internationally.