Wi-Fi Calling is a commonplace function, built into most smartphones by now. But as ubiquitous as it is, I still meet people unfamiliar with it, or suffering without it. So here’s all you need to know about Wi-Fi Calling:
Wi-Fi Calling (rarely called Voice over Wi-Fi calling or VoWiFi) is another service that allows your cellphone to make or receive phonecalls. And also text messages! Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, this feature is probably already running, inside your device.
Normally, your phone would connect a call over the cellular network, using the local cell towers. But when that cellular signal is weak or lost, Wi-Fi Calling can take over. Your call/text will still happen, but it will travel over the internet, through your local Wi-Fi network, instead.
Wi-Fi Calling is typically free and included with whatever calling plan you’ve purchased with your cellular provider.
Where Is It Useful?
They say that “Home is Where the Wi-Fi Is” but Wi-Fi Calling isn’t just for when you’re inside your house. It can help your phone work better wherever you go and the cellular reception is lacking:
- Vacation at a remote location
- Working in a densely built, cinderblock basement
- Walking through a parking garage/warehouse/convention center
If you can connect your phone to any working wireless network, Wi-Fi Calling kicks in and you’ll have uninterrupted service. The calls and texts will flow! So, as you travel, you may want to connect your phone to every Wi-Fi network accessible to you. The public Wi-Fi at the library. The free Wi-Fi at Costco. The municipal Wi-Fi at the downtown walking mall. The hospital’s Wi-Fi.
This feature may also help you avoid international calling charges (but check with your carrier before you travel and rely on that). And, if you have a very-limited data plan, Wi-Fi Calling may also help you avoid extra charges for data usage. Calls and texts that travel over Wi-Fi Calling should not count towards your data consumption!
Finding This on Your Phone
You do not need to install any extra apps or software for this to work. It’s already inside your smartphone’s OS. But I want you to know how to find this on your phone, just to verify that it is Enabled/On. Plus, if you ever have any trouble with your Wi-Fi Calling, your first troubleshooting step should be: Find this setting, and turn it off and on again.
Use any of the following links for steps and info on where to find it:
Make calls over Wi-Fi, by Google
Make a call with Wi-Fi Calling, by Apple
Set up Wi-Fi Calling, by T-Mobile
AT&T WI-FI® Calling, by AT&T
If you have a smartphone, but cannot find this feature on your phone, call your carrier to ask about it! It cannot be used on really old phones (or flip-phones). But if this is missing from your modern smartphone, it could be that the carrier didn’t activate it for you from their end. That’s usually a quick fix, after a call in to customer support