Technology has changed the way businesses make voice calls. Wi-Fi calling can help certain entrepreneurs and offices cut their traditional phone lines, saving money and making the most of the resources they already have. If you’re interested in learning more about Wi-Fi calls, here’s a beginner’s guide.
What is Wi-Fi Calling?
Wi-Fi calling is a mobile phone feature that allows you to text and make voice calls using your phone’s Wi-Fi connection instead of your traditional cellular network. It’s available on most major smartphones, including iPhone and Android phones.
You simply have to enable WiFi calling in your phone’s settings and have access to a WiFi connection to use this feature. The exact process varies by device. Additionally, there are some third party apps that allow users to make WiFi calls, like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
What is the Point of Wi-Fi Calling?
Cellular networks don’t cover every area, and they occasionally have outages. With WiFi calling, you can use the WiFi connection at your home or business as a backup. This prevents you from dropping calls and allows you to stay in touch even when your cellular service fails.
For example, you can make calls in an area with spotty reception. You can even send texts on airplanes using WiFi. Technically, you could even make voice and video calls on planes as well, but most airlines prohibit this. WiFi calling may also come in handy for those who have met the limits of their cellular plan.
Is Wi-Fi Calling Free?
WiFi calls within the U.S. are generally free, as long as you have a device that supports this feature. It’s included on popular Android smartphones and iPhones. However, you may need to pay for your own wireless network at home or at the office. If you plan to make WiFi calls on the road, you may need to purchase a hotspot, which often retails for between $20 and $50.
11 Ways Wi-Fi Calling Will Benefit Your Business
WiFi calling generally allows people to be more connected. In today’s mobile business environment, the importance of this cannot be overstated. Here are some specific benefits for business owners to consider.
1. You can Make Calls in Areas with Low Cellular Connection
Today, people generally expect access to cellular service just about everywhere. However, there are still areas with limited coverage. And no business owner wants to find themselves in a dead zone when they have an important call or video meeting scheduled.
Here are some places where you may need WiFi calling to communicate:
- Trains or public transit
- Dead zones in offices (This is especially common in concrete buildings)
- Basement home offices
2. Making Wi-Fi Calls Saves Time
If you’re in an area with little or no cell reception, traditional calls may get dropped. This doesn’t just look unprofessional; it can waste precious meeting time. With WiFi calling, your calls won’t get dropped as long as you have a reliable connection. So you can spend more time communicating and less time dealing with technology.
3. No App Download is Needed
Smartphones have apps for just about everything. But these take valuable space on your device and require extra steps that many entrepreneurs don’t have time for. WiFi calling is already available on most devices. So it’s easy to get started and use.
4. Making Calls over WiFi Does not Use any Talk Time
Most cell phone plans only have a certain amount of talk time each month. If you make a lot of voice calls, you may have to pay extra fees or purchase a plan with more time. However, WiFi calls don’t contribute to this number. So if you’re low on minutes for the rest of the month, they can help you save money.
5. It Results in Better Quality Calls
Call quality can make your business look more professional. If you both have a strong WiFi connection, this option may help you both hear more clearly. This allows you to be more productive and focused as you communicate. It also limits disruptions and shows clients or potential partners that you’re willing to invest in quality communication solutions for your business.
6. A Wi-Fi Call Uses Your Phone Number
Wi-Fi calling doesn’t require a separate line or number. So you don’t need to confuse contacts by giving them multiple ways of contacting you. And when you get in touch with others, they should always know who is calling. Basically, it’s a really simple solution when you don’t want to use a regular cellular connection. If, however, you want a dedicated number, there are apps that give you a phone number.
7. It Includes No Add On Services
You also don’t need an extra plan or service to take advantage of this feature. Simply enable Wi-Fi calling or put your phone in airplane mode and it should work automatically.
8. It Is Supported by Most Phones
If you have a smartphone, it probably already comes with this feature. So you don’t need to purchase a new device or do extensive research when it’s time for an update. This also means that the majority of your team and the people you call should have access to Wi-Fi calling.
What phones support Wi-Fi calling?
Most current smartphones use Wi-Fi calling. Here are some popular ones:
- Apple iPhone 6 and later
- Samsung Galaxy A01 and later
- Google Pixel
- Microsoft Lumia
- Motorola Moto phones
- LG Fortune, Escape, Harmony, and Stylo
9. Video Calls Can be Like Regular Calls
Most smartphones can also host video calls. And with Wi-Fi calling, you can use this feature just as you would with a voice call – just enable your phone’s video call feature (i.e. FaceTime for iPhones). This can be less complicated than setting up brand new VoIP calls or video streams to host these conferences.
10. There are No Fees for Incoming Calls on a Wi-Fi Network
WiFi calling is generally free within the U.S. And it’s always free when you receive calls. So you don’t need to factor extra money into your communication budget if you already pay for a wireless network.
11. You Can Also Send Text Messages Over Wi-Fi
A strong Wi-Fi network doesn’t just give you access to voice calls. You can also send text messages to team members, partners, and clients. This is perfect if you just need to send a quick update or ask a simple question while on the go.
Things to Note Before Using Wi-Fi Calling
The pros of Wi-Fi calling almost certainly outweigh the cons for many business users. But it’s not right for every situation. Here are some things to consider before relying on Wi-Fi for any important upcoming phone calls.
Weak Wi-Fi Connection Equals Problems
Just as weak cellular coverage may lead to dropped calls or low quality, so can a weak Wi-Fi signal. Internet signal strength varies based on your distance from a router, the amount of people connected, and any potential obstructions. This can be especially relevant for those in large offices where the router is far away or near concrete walls or appliances, which can block the signal. Get to know the spots in your home and/or office where the signal is strongest (often close to the router) and use those for important Wi-Fi phone calls.
There are Restrictions on International Calls
Wi-Fi calling within the U.S. is usually free. But you may have to pay for international calls, since these are not technically made using only Wi-Fi. For example, T-Mobile customers may pay $0.25 per minute when roaming. It’s the same for Wi-Fi calls as it is for traditional cellular phone calls. Specific rates vary based on your international calling plan. So get to know these rates to avoid surprises when calling internationally.
Not All Phones Have a Wi-Fi Calling Feature
Most modern smartphones have Wi-Fi calling. And all the major U.S. carriers support it on these devices. But it’s not included on older cell phones or office phones. If you or the person you’re calling doesn’t have a device that supports this feature, it may not be an option.
How to Set up and Enable Wi-Fi Calling
Not all phones have a Wi-Fi calling feature. And those that do generally don’t come with it automatically enabled. So before you make a Wi-Fi call, you’ll need to make sure your phone is HD voice-enabled and connected to a Wi-Fi network. Then you must enable Wi-Fi calling before making your first call or text. Here’s how to do that on some of today’s most popular devices.
How to Setup WiFi Calling on Android Devices
Most modern Android phones make it easy to set up Wi-Fi calling. Before you can make phone calls using Wi-Fi, you simply need to enable the feature on your device. This allows you to call or text where no service is available or when your phone is in airplane mode, which stops it from connecting to a cellphone tower. Here’s how to do this on an Android phone:
- Go to your phone’s settings section and select Networks & Internet
- Click the mobile network option
- Turn on Wi-Fi
- Click the Advanced settings option
- Scroll down to where it says “Wi-Fi calling,” toggle on the option
- Enter your emergency address when prompted, since emergency services don’t automatically get your location if you call using Wi-Fi
How to Set up Wi-Fi Calling on iPhone Devices
For those with an Apple device, making calls with Wi-Fi instead of cellular service is automatic as long as you activate this feature first. If you have an iPhone, here are the steps needed to enable Wi-Fi calling on your wireless device.
- Go to your phone’s settings and select “Phone”
- Scroll down to where it says WiFi Calling and toggle it on
- Enter or confirm your address in case you need to make emergency calls
- Connect to a WiFi network
How to Make a Call with the Wi-Fi Calling Feature
Once you enable Wi-Fi calling, you don’t have to take many special steps to make calls. The exact process varies by device. But here’s a basic guide:
- Activate Wi-Fi calling in your phone’s settings
- Connect to a Wi-Fi network
- Dial or text as usual
- If you’re making an emergency call, provide your location either in your phone’s settings or at the beginning of the call.
How do I use Wi-Fi calling on my Samsung phone?
Popular Samsung phones like the Galaxy series generally include Wi-Fi calling if purchased within the last several years. Each specific phone may vary a bit, but here’s usually how it works:
- Tap the three vertical dots in your phone app
- Go to Settings and tap Wi-Fi Calling
- Toggle the switch over to turn the feature on
- Certain phones also allow you to activate Wi-Fi Calling from the Quick Settings Panel
What’s the difference between cellular data and Wi-Fi calling?
Both cellular data and Wi-Fi allow you to connect to the internet on your phone. However, when you connect using your cellular network, it comes from the monthly allowance you signed up for with your phone provider. Some plans offer unlimited data with text and voice calling, but many have limits. And you’ll usually pay overage charges if you surpass them.
When you use Wi-Fi calling, it doesn’t come out of your phone plan. You just need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network at your home or business. Cellular calls are often better if you have a strong signal. But Wi-Fi calls are preferred if your cell signal is weak or if you’re over your monthly cellular allowance.
Do I want Wi-Fi calling on or off?
Wi-Fi calling is generally a good idea in areas where you have a strong Wi-Fi signal but spotty access to your cellular network. For example, you might enable it on public transit or office dead zones. But your cellular coverage is likely stronger in other areas, so you may toggle it off in those instances. You can easily turn Wi-Fi calling on and off. So try it both ways and see what works best for you in various instances. Generally, it’s best to turn Wi-Fi calling off before making emergency calls. But many carriers will automatically connect you to a cell tower when you make an emergency call, if a signal is available.
Does Wi-Fi calling save your battery life?
Yes. When you call with Wi-Fi, your phone only needs to send a signal to your router, which is likely close by. When you call with cell service, your phone needs to reach the nearest cell tower, which is almost always further away. This may not make a huge difference for most users. But it can be noticeable for those who are far from cell towers.
Do Wi-Fi calls show on your phone bill?
Wi-Fi calls sometimes show up on your phone bill, but not always. If you are connected to a Wi-Fi network at your home or office, then the Wi-Fi call likely will not appear on your bill. You simply pay your internet carrier for access. And that allows you to make calls when you’re on the same network. However, if you aren’t connected to an outside network, you’ll use your phone’s data plan, which does appear on your phone bill.
Does Wi-Fi calling work without a SIM?
Yes, you can make a Wi-Fi call on a device without a SIM card. All you need is a phone that has Wi-Fi calling capabilities and access to the internet. If you purchased a smartphone in the U.S. within the past five years, it likely has the ability to make Wi-Fi calling work.
Is Wi-Fi calling better than 4G?
Wi-Fi calling lets you place calls and texts without access to a cellular connection. Calling with 4G does require you to be close to a cell tower. Some Wi-Fi calls get slightly delayed if the connection isn’t strong. But this feature does let you make calls in areas with limited cell service. It can also keep your cell phone bill reasonable if you’re always near the limits of your cellular data usage. Generally, Wi-Fi calling is helpful as long as you have access to a strong internet connection. But 4G may be better if you’re always out and about, or if you travel or call internationally, since overseas Wi-Fi calling isn’t free.
Is Wi-Fi calling the same as VoLTE?
No, VoLTE still requires access to a cell signal, while Wi-Fi calling does not. VoLTE stands for voice over long-term evolution. This means you can use it to place voice calls using your phone’s signal. It aims to be faster than other types of signals like 3G. And you don’t need to be connected to a Wi-Fi signal at your home or office to use it. With Wi-Fi calling, you do need access to the internet, but you don’t need to be close to a cell phone tower to place a voice call or text.
Is there an app for free Wi-Fi calling?
You do not need a third party app to place Wi-Fi calls. It is a feature that comes standard with most phones, including iPhones and Android devices. Carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile also support this capability without outside apps. Just enable the feature in your phone’s settings to use it.
However, there are apps you can use to place Wi-Fi calls, like Google Voice, Skype, Tango, and Fring. These generally offer advanced features like international Wi-Fi calling or the ability to call from other devices like laptops.
Can I still make calls to emergency services using Wi-Fi calling?
Yes, you can place emergency calls using Wi-Fi calling if you are not connected to a cellular network. This is a useful feature for business users because it allows you to keep your workplace safe even if there’s a spotty cell signal. It can also be useful for those who regularly travel, since you may sometimes end up far away from cell towers, or on trains or public transit systems.
However, most carriers will automatically connect you to your cell signal when placing an emergency call if their network is available. When you’re connected via cell service, emergency services can access your location in case you’re unsure or the call gets cut off. This feature is not available when you use Wi-Fi calling. To ensure safety and fast response times when using Wi-Fi calling, give your location right away and add your address to your device when prompted.
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