What Is Wi-Fi Calling & How Does It Affect Your Phone Calls?

February 29, 2024 10 min read

Joe Manna

Joe Manna

Wi-Fi Calling Explained

Have you heard of Wi-Fi calling but don’t know how it works or how to enable it? We’ll explain everything you need to know.

As distributed workforces become more common, Wi-Fi calling has emerged as an important capability for teams to communicate clearly using higher-quality audio over cloud phone systems. Unlike cellular calls, Wi-Fi calling uses your Wi-Fi network to provide HD Voice for calls.

In this guide, we’ll overview what Wi-Fi calling is and how to effectively set it up and use it for your business.

What Is Wi-Fi Calling?

Wi-Fi calling allows users to make and receive phone calls (voice or video) over a Wi-Fi internet connection instead of a cellular network. It doesn’t go through a traditional telecommunications provider like AT&T or Verizon.

Most modern smartphones now have accepted, universal standards (APIs) optimized for VoIP calls over Wi-Fi that save battery life and improve call quality.

Wi-Fi itself operates on a series of standards established by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance. If you have a high-speed broadband connection like cable or fiber, odds are that you also have a wireless router capable of providing Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home or office.

Typically, a wireless router offers approximately 150 feet of range from its location, depending on building materials and other environmental factors. The latest Wi-Fi 6 standard offers faster speeds and greater capacity for connecting multiple devices.

For business continuity purposes, it’s prudent to have a backup internet connection in case your primary network fails.

For example, an LTE-based cellular data connection can provide internet access to keep operations running. With the right configuration, Wi-Fi calling can intelligently switch between Wi-Fi and cellular connections to avoid call drops.

One notable trend from our 2020 Business Communication Report was the acceleration toward empowering remote work.

Current events have also pushed more companies to enable teams to work productively away from the office. Nearly four out of ten companies now have some or all of their workforce operating remotely, using cloud and internet-based tools to collaborate.

It’s time for a powerful calling experience. For free.

Get your business phone, messages, video meetings, contact management and notes–integrated in ONE powerful app. FREE.

How Does Wi-Fi Calling Work?

The simplest way to make a Wi-Fi call is through a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system. It works by reaching a carrier over the internet connection to establish a phone line. There’s a lot of happening under the hood to make this possible, but to you, it’s practically effortless.

Apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger use VoIP technology to make calls. With today’s capable devices, you don’t have to do much to achieve a strong network connection.

Apps like Nextiva let businesses make Wi-Fi calls from any device — even if it doesn’t have a cellular connection (or SIM Card).

Fundamentally, Wi-Fi calling uses VoIP to provide callers with a better calling experience. You can select the right rate plan and phone number that works for your business.

It’s also a great way to skip paying your cellular company high international rates. With modern advances in wireless routers, you use them for reliable network connections without any dropped calls.

How Much Does Wi-Fi Calling Cost?

Traditionally, phone calls made using a cellular connection come from your monthly allowance. The Wi-Fi calling feature is similar. Wi-Fi calls have no additional cost; it’s taken from your monthly voice plan.

It’s a fantastic option for employees that telecommute. You won’t pay sky-high international calling rates for making cross-border calls. You’re simply using data from your allowance to make international long-distance calls.

With cloud phone services like Nextiva people can call as much as they want across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. And when it’s time to call abroad, they can call around the world for as low as a penny per minute.

Advantages of Wi-Fi Calling for Businesses

The benefits like cost savings, flexibility, productivity gains, and more make Wi-Fi calling an attractive feature for modern businesses supporting distributed, mobile workforces.

1. Cost savings

Wi-Fi calling helps businesses reduce cellular plan costs by enabling employees to make calls via Wi-Fi networks instead of cellular networks. Businesses pay less for cellular plans with fewer minutes.

Switching to VoIP saves costs

2. Improved connectivity

Wi-Fi calling helps maintain call connectivity in areas with poor cellular coverage but good Wi-Fi coverage. Employees can seamlessly make or receive calls as long as they have a Wi-Fi connection.

3. Flexible mobility

Employees with Wi-Fi calling-enabled mobile phones (iPhones or Android) can make and receive work calls regardless of location — in the office, at home, or in hotels. This supports flexible work options like telecommuting and mobility.

4. Enhanced productivity

Fewer dropped calls mean employees can conduct business with less interruption. Seamless call hand-off between Wi-Fi and cellular connections also minimizes productivity loss.

5. Single phone number

You don’t need to give out a separate phone number or manage multiple numbers as calls to each employee’s existing phone number will be routed over Wi-Fi where Wi-Fi connectivity is available.

How Businesses Can Implement Wi-Fi Calling

Businesses looking to enable Wi-Fi calling for employees should focus on these key steps:

Challenges With Wi-Fi Calling (+ Solutions)

Wi-Fi calling allows you to speak to people in remote locations. You don’t need to be near a cellphone tower. You simply need an internet connection. However, providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon supply mobile data—so long as you’re near one of their towers.

However, Wi-Fi can have a weaker connection than cellular data. Voice quality can be sacrificed if lots of people are using the Wi-Fi hotspot at the same time. This usually happens in crowded places like shopping centers or stadiums.

One drawback of Wi-Fi calling is that it can be subjected to disruptions from your network among other VoIP problems. These issues are preventable, but you might have echoes or delays if you have a faulty network connection.

Video calls made using Wi-Fi can suffer as a result. For this reason, it might not be the best option for remote employees stuck in airports with an overcrowded Wi-Fi connection. They’d probably have a stronger cellular connection. That’s because cellular coverage areas are reliable in urban areas.

And if that wasn’t enough, Wi-Fi calls could extend your battery life. A device that continuously searches for a cellular network to connect to can drain your battery. A device using Wi-Fi calls doesn’t. It simply connects to one network — and stays there until you disconnect.

Best Practices for Effective Wi-Fi Calling

How to make sure you avoid common pitfalls and have a smooth Wi-Fi calling experience?

✅ Choose the right router

Using a high-quality router that supports the latest Wi-Fi standards (802.11ac or Wi-Fi 6) will provide the best experience for Wi-Fi calling.

The router should support dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with multiple internal antennas to ensure strong Wi-Fi signals throughout your home or office. Place the router in a central location away from objects that could cause interference.

⚙️ Optimize your Wi-Fi network

Configure your router to use a less crowded 5GHz network instead of the standard 2.4GHz band if possible. Also, disable features on the router such as Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) which can negatively impact call quality.

Set routers to use WPA2 encryption instead of WPA for improved connectivity.

🎛 Check your internet speed

Most cell phone carriers recommend a minimum of 1 Mbps upload/download speed for Wi-Fi calling. However, speeds of at least 5 Mbps or higher provide better call clarity.

Conduct periodic internet speed tests and contact your internet service provider if speeds are consistently low.

Perform a VoIP Speed Test from Nextiva
Perform a VoIP Speed Test from Nextiva. In this case, the network is perfect for handling thousands of simultaneous phone calls.

📲 Update your devices

Maintain the latest firmware and software on routers, access points, and Wi-Fi-enabled devices like smartphones. Updates often include optimizations for better connectivity.

Turn devices completely off periodically instead of just restarting them to clear any memory issues.

✂️ Limit interference

Avoid placing Wi-Fi routers near other electronics like baby monitors, microwaves, or Bluetooth devices as these can cause interference on Wi-Fi bands.

Also, check for physical obstructions between routers and endpoints, which can degrade signals. Keep the number of devices on Wi-Fi networks to a minimum for better stability.

✳️ Verify Wi-Fi calling preferences

Double-check that Wi-Fi calling options are properly enabled on mobile devices and set preferences to use Wi-Fi calling only when cellular signals drop below a usable threshold. This prevents phones from clinging to Wi-Fi when cellular signals may provide better connectivity.

Screenshot of iPhone Wi-Fi Calling Prompt - Wi-Fi Calling
Screenshot of iPhone Wi-Fi Calling Prompt

🌐 Test network reliability

Proactively test Wi-Fi networks by making test calls on Wi-Fi at various times and locations to evaluate call quality. Problem areas in office buildings or homes can be identified and addressed by moving router locations or Wi-Fi range extenders.

Wi-Fi Calling FAQs

1) How do I make Wi-Fi calls with Nextiva?

You can make Wi-Fi calls using Nextiva’s VoIP app. Head over to your App Store and search “Nextiva” to download the app to your device. (Note that you might need an Enterprise account to use the app.)

Start by uploading your contacts to the database. You can do this by importing contacts from your device or adding them manually.

Your VoIP phone number will be the same one created when you got your Nextiva subscription. The same applies if you’re using an international number.

Then, when you’re done, hit the Call tab towards the bottom of your screen. Click the person you want to call.

If you’ve already enabled Wi-Fi calling on your device, the Nextiva call won’t use your cellular data. It will jump on the wireless internet connection you’re already using.

2) Can I still make emergency calls?

Calls using cellular data are preferred for emergency calls. Why? Because when a cellular call is made, it pings nearby cell towers. The emergency services use this data to track your location and route your call to the nearest public safety answering point, or PSAP.

That being said, you can still make Wi-Fi calls in an emergency, but make sure to provide the operator with your specific location verbally.

3) Can I register an address for my phone making Wi-Fi calls?

Emergency services can’t easily track a caller’s location from Wi-Fi calls. For this reason, you’ll need to add an address to your device. This is used if you make an emergency call. The police (or otherwise) will be sent to this location if you call them via a Wi-Fi network.

The device you’re using will ask for an emergency address when you enable calls over Wi-Fi. For cell phone carriers, it’s typically your billing address. The Nextiva App will automatically draw your emergency address from your User Profile. You can’t use this feature without adding this information to your Apple or Android device.

4) What types of devices can make Wi-Fi calls?

An increasing number of phone service providers support Wi-Fi calls, including:

Almost all Android and Apple phones now support Wi-Fi calls.

Alternatively, you can use the Nextiva business app to make work-related Wi-Fi calls. You can sync your work phone’s contact list to the app. Then, you can use the app to make high-quality phone calls over your Wi-Fi.

But what if you’re using a device that doesn’t have a cellular connection, anyway? The Nextiva App is also compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. This means you can make Wi-Fi calls through your PC. You don’t need your mobile device.

Regardless of which device you’re using, you can still make a call using a Wi-Fi connection.

5) What equipment do I need to make Wi-Fi calls?

To make Wi-Fi calls, you need:

With a Nextiva Wi-Fi desk phone, cordless phone, or softphone, you can stay connected on calls as you move around your home or office.

6) How do I turn off Wi-Fi calling?

Not ready to start using Wi-Fi for your calls? Don’t worry. You can still switch back to using your cellular service at any time.

To do this, head back to the Wi-Fi settings for your device. Simply switch the toggle back to Off.

For Android devices, you’ll also need to switch off airplane mode in your status bar. Apple users will need to turn their cellular data back on through their settings menu.

You can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular calls at any time. For example, if you’re working remotely and don’t have good signal strength, use Wi-Fi calls. But if you’re in the office with a strong cellular connection, stick to that.

7) Is it safe?

When making a call, your mobile carrier encrypts your voice. This happens when you’re using a Wi-Fi connection, making such calls perfectly safe — even if the Wi-Fi network isn’t secure or password-protected.

8) Pros and cons of Wi-Fi calling

Why Wi-Fi Calling Is the Way Forward

Wi-Fi calls are a great alternative to cellular calls. You don’t need a device containing a SIM card, nor be close to a cellular mobile network tower, to make a phone call.

This makes Wi-Fi calling a perfect option for mobile or remote staff. Regardless of where they are in the world, they can make calls back to your U.S.-based office at no additional charge. Plus, they can hop on the cloud phone even if they’re in the middle of nowhere.

Once you set your preferred calling connection to Wi-Fi, there’s no looking back.

It’s time for a powerful calling experience. For free.

Get your business phone, messages, video meetings, contact management and notes–integrated in ONE powerful app. FREE.

Joe Manna


Joe Manna

Joe Manna was a senior content marketing manager at Nextiva. He blends his marketing acumen and deep technical background to improve people's lives with technology. His expertise helps companies large and small serve more customers. He enjoys a rich iced latte and a non-fiction business book when he's not pressing words.

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