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What is Wi-Fi Calling? EE's new service explained

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EE Wi-Fi Calling

How does Wi-Fi Calling work? We explain why EE's new service is good news for iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 owners

In recent weeks, EE has kicked off its Wi-Fi Calling feature with the promise of fewer dropped calls and less reliance on flaky mobile networks.

So what is Wi-Fi Calling, and when will you be able to benefit from it?

Wi-Fi Calling: Definition

Wi-Fi Calling is, very simply, the ability to make mobile phone calls over a Wi-Fi connection rather than over your mobile network.

Haven't we been doing that for years?

Of course, we've been doing something fundamentally similar for years now, using VoIP apps such as Skype and FaceTime. Three and O2 have also provided their own so-called Wi-Fi Calling services that let you use a Wi-Fi connection to make calls.

But EE's Wi-Fi Calling is different. Here, Wi-Fi calls are seamlessly integrated into your general usage, and thus are indistinguishable from regular calls.

You don't need a stand-alone app, and you don't need to deliberately select an option every time you want to make a Wi-Fi call. It automatically detects which option is best each time you make a call. It just works.

It works for texts too

The same principle works with text messages, too. If you can't get a sufficient mobile signal to send an SMS, your compatible phone will be able to switch to a Wi-Fi connection to complete the task.

What's the benefit?

EE claims that four million people in the UK lose mobile connection in at least one room in their house. It has also found that a quarter of people in the UK work from home at least one day per week, and 20 percent of those people claim to lose connectivity during the day.

While plenty of us experience poor mobile network performance in our own homes, though, most of us have broadband access. This Wi-Fi Calling system capitalises on that face to ensure that your smartphone is always usable at home.

Besides which, Wi-Fi Calling will hopefully ease the load on the overworked mobile network towers in our major UK cities, and you'll finally be able to make calls on the Tube (Wi-Fi hotspot permitting) like this bloke.

SEE ALSO: What is VoLTE?

Wifi

Which phones are compatible?

At present, you can take advantage of Wi-Fi Calling on any iPhone from the last few generations - so that's the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, along with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. That's as long as you've updated to iOS 8.3.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge also support EE's Wi-Fi Calling, as does the Microsoft Lumia 640.

Going back to Samsung, EE has published details on how to activate Wi-Fi Calling on the Samsung Galaxy S5. It simply involves updating to the latest software.

It should be noted that you'll need to have obtained your phone through EE - buying an unlocked, SIM-free model and putting an EE SIM card in won't work.

How to set EE Wi-Fi Calling up

If you have a compatible handset and you haven't received a text message about EE Wi-Fi Calling already, just text 'wifi calling' to 150 to set it up. It can sometimes take a few hours to activate.

What about the other networks?

As we've discussed, only EE has this Wi-Fi Calling feature at present, with O2 and Three offering distinctly less advanced implementations.

We can expect both to jump aboard the seamless Wi-Fi Calling train, however, and Vodafone has also announced that it's working on something similar to EE's implementation for "Summer 2015".

Vodafone WiFi Calling

It's not perfect

It sounds pretty ideal, but EE's Wi-Fi Calling offering isn't quite perfect yet. The main issue here is that you can't start a call on a mobile network and continue it seamlessly on a Wi-Fi network, or vice-versa.

Such a feature is in the works, but we'll have to wait for EE's 4G voice calling service - or VoLTE - to kick off for that to become a reality. Right now, all voice calls occur on creaky old 2G and 3G technology, which simply isn't up to the task.

Also, don't start getting ideas of placing cheap calls home from a handy cafe whilst on holiday abroad - this is a UK-only offering for now.

iPhone users should also note that activating Wi-Fi Calling will disable the Continuity feature that enables you to take calls across your Apple devices when on the same Wi-Fi network.

Another quirk (we'd struggle to call it a flaw) is the lack of hold beeps if both parties are using Wi-Fi Calling.

Have you started using EE's Wi-Fi Calling? Let us know what you make of it so far in the comments section below

Michael J Davies

April 14, 2015, 6:23 am

I Have a unlocked iphone 6 plus which I purchased through Apple and the wifi calling works great, so you don't need to purchase the phone through EE
Mick

itsallgonepearshaped

April 14, 2015, 8:55 am

How does wifi calling know you're calling from abroad? Actually more accurately why should they care? (I know IP can give location) Surely it's all irrelevant when it's through the internet?

toboev

April 14, 2015, 4:20 pm

Yes. Why would it not work from abroad? After all, it would not cost any more than from anywhere else. And would do away with roaming charges. There's your reason, right there.

rosemarie sutherland

April 16, 2015, 2:19 pm

I am actually abroad now My Samsung Galaxy 5 was updated this morning and I noticed a new icon...wifi with little phone image below . I also received two messages from ee and was able to make a call to London although my mobile data is off and airplane mode on. What's that about? I hope I haven't been charged!

Richard Smith

May 12, 2015, 1:43 pm

WARNING I bought an iPhone 6 for my wife and a Galaxy S6 for myself. It works OK on the iPhone. This is my 3rd Galaxy, I like them but IT ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT WORK ON THE GALAXY! Easily 50% of incoming calls go straight to voicemail even when the service is showing as working. The service turns off more than 20ft from the wifi box or if the box is the other side of a wall (data continues to work). The service rarely turns itself back on when the phone has been in standby. THIS PRODUCT SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN IT SIMPLY DOES NOT STAND UP TO BASIC PRODUCT TESTING ON THE SAMSUNG.

Ricardo Ochôa

May 22, 2015, 9:41 pm

Michael, iPhone OS is only updated by apple, the feature is there on all versions.
On the other-side Android OS and Operator branded OS it's different and the feature isn't there if not EE custom ROM

Mark O'Donnell

May 26, 2015, 1:53 pm

I'm finding wi-fi calling to be so poor that it is basically
unusable. I am on EE and using an iPhone 6 since the service was launched by EE
and I have not made a call over wifi yet that didn't have issues. From cutting
out during calls to failing to connect in the first place. This morning when I
tried to call there was a very loud echo for the first half of the call then for the second half I
couldn't hear the other person speak at all although it turned out that they
could still hear me. I ended up going into the garden to try and get a phone
signal but could not connect until I had turned off wifi calling in the iPhone
settings as the phone was still trying to connect over the wifi network. I may
go back to my old Vodafone sure signal, that is pretty temperamental but
at least it worked more often than not.

Jane L Robinson

June 23, 2015, 9:34 am

Why are only some phones supported, I have the Nokia Lumia 830 and this is not supported but an older version is. Why.....

DeadReckoning

October 17, 2015, 3:34 pm

EE WiFi calls (on S6) are unuseable for me with audio fading in and out every few seconds. Nice idea but the quality of implementaton is not there.

Paul Hamilton

March 11, 2016, 7:07 pm

Using wifi calling on EE on an iPhone 6. First impression was ok but have found that when calling out the call does not connect for 10 seconds and sometimes will not connect at all. Also have found that incoming text messages sometimes arrive all at once with up to 6 hours delay. Not sure this is related to wifi calling so have disabled it to see if calling and incoming texts improve.

annewareham

July 26, 2016, 9:58 am

Wondered why it didn't work as advertised on LG G5....

DigitalThumb

September 9, 2016, 2:07 pm

Total waste of time it just don't work. S6Edge

Basiclife1

November 16, 2016, 2:39 pm

In short... Please use the hardware and infrastructure someone else has paid for instead of expecting us to spend money on it.

For using someone else's network and helping us reduce the burden on our kit, we'll go ahead and charge you exactly the same price.

Drago 11

December 1, 2016, 12:18 am

I would like it to use wifi calling when i can't get a signal (ONLY!!!)Then it would be a great backup.

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