What is WiFi Calling and How Does it Work?
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What is WiFi Calling? Free Calls, Here We Come!

Have you heard about Wi-Fi calling, but not exactly sure how it works? Or, more importantly, how to turn it on? We’ll break down everything you need to know about calling over Wi-Fi for you.

Apple and Android devices support Wi-Fi calling. Without using your phone service provider as the middleman. It’s is a great solution to achieve high-quality calls indoors.

That’s great for businesses, especially when it’s expected that 42.5% of the entire global workforce will be mobile by 2020. You’ll still be able to communicate with co-workers with strong Wi-Fi network coverage—but not a strong cellular service.

In this guide, we’ll answer common questions you might have about your calling options:

What is WiFi Calling?

WiFi itself operates on a series of standards established by the IEEE and the WiFi Alliance. If you have a high-speed broadband connection, odds are that you also have a router capable of providing this wireless coverage.

Typically, a wireless router offers approximately 150 feet of range from its location, depending on building materials and other factors.

WiFi calling gives you the chance to make phone calls using a wireless internet connection. It doesn’t go through a traditional telecommunications provider like AT&T or Verizon. Additionally, Android and iOS devices now have accepted, universal standards (APIs) for VoIP calls in a way that is optimized for battery life and the user experience.

How Does WiFi Calling Work?

The simplest way to make a WiFi 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 all use VoIP technology to make calls. But with devices now being WiFi-enabled, you don’t always need them to ditch unreliable cellular network connections. You can use apps like Nextiva to make WiFi calls in your device—even if it doesn’t have a cellular connection (or SIM Card).

Do You Get Charged For It?

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

It’s a fantastic option for staff working abroad. 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. Just for perspective, more than 100 million voice calls are made on WhatsApp every day.

The best part? Experts predict that there will be 542 million hotspots all over the world by 2021. Those hotspots support WiFi calls.

How to Enable WiFi Calls on an iPhone

Ready to make your first WiFi call? You no longer need old-fashioned apps like Skype.

To make a WiFi call on your iPhone device, head to your Settings, and hit the Mobile Data option. Here, you’ll see a section for WiFi calling:

Screenshot of iPhone Mobile Data Settings - Wi-Fi Calling

Click the button, and slide the WiFi calling toggle to On:

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

Your iPhone is now ready for you to make a call via WiFi connection.

But to exclusively use WiFi for calling on your iPhone (rather than your cellular network), you’ll need to turn off your mobile data.

Do this by heading to your smartphone’s Settings > Cellular Data, and switching the toggle to Off:

Screenshot of iPhone Cellular Data Settings
Source: Apple

iPhones, iPads, and iPods all have the same settings.

However, some Apple devices automatically use WiFi connections. iMessage is a popular messaging service that uses this. Users connect to the internet to send and receive text messages rather than cellular data.

The only difference? This only happens when texting an Apple device from another Apple device. If an iPhone texts a Samsung phone, iMessage won’t be supported. The message will be sent as a normal text through a cellular connection.

How to Enable WiFi Calls on Android Phones

Can you still make WiFi calls if your device uses the Android operating system? Yes!

To enable WiFi calling on your Android device, head over to your Settings. Hit the Network & Internet button. Then, click WiFi Preferences and tap Advanced:

Screenshot of Android's Wi-Fi Calling Settings
Source: MakeUseOf

Here, you’ll see a toggle for WiFi calling. Switch the button to On:

Screenshot of enabling Wi-Fi calling on Android
Source: HowToGeek

You’ll then need to turn off your standard mobile phone data. You can do this by turning your Android phone to Airplane Mode.

Airplane Mode will stop your device from relying on cellular data usage. Incoming and outgoing calls will be done automatically via WiFi.

What’s the Difference Between Cellular Data and WiFi Calling?

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

Video calls made using WiFi can suffer as a result. For this reason, it might not be the best option for remote workers stuck in airports with an overcrowded WiFi 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, WiFi 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 WiFi calls doesn’t. It simply connects to one network—and stays there until you disconnect.

FAQs

1) How do I make WiFi calls with Nextiva?

You can make WiFi 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 WiFi 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 WiFi calls in an emergency situation, but make sure to provide the operator your specific location verbally.

3) Can I register an address to my phone making WiFi calls?

Emergency services can’t easily track a caller’s location from WiFi 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 WiFi network.

The device you’re using will ask for an emergency address when you enable calls over WiFi. 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 WiFi calls?

An increasing number of phone service providers support WiFi calls, including:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • T-Mobile
  • Sprint

Almost all Android and Apple phones now support WiFi calls.

Alternatively, you can use the Nextiva business app to make work-related WiFi 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 WiFi.

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 WiFi 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 WiFi connection.

5) How do I turn it off ?

Not ready to start using WiFi for your calls? Don’t worry. You can still switch back to using your cellular network at any time.

To do this, head back to the WiFi 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 WiFi and cellular calls at any time. For example, if you’re working remotely and don’t have good signal strength, use WiFi calls. But if you’re in the office with a strong cellular connection, stick to that.

Related: Ready for VoIP? Advantages and Disadvantages to Make the Right Choice

6) Is it safe?

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

7) Pros and cons

  • Pros: Data is taken from your existing mobile plan, without any extra charges. Plus, you don’t need any extra hardware—just an internet-connected device. And, since calls are encrypted, they’re perfectly safe for business use. WiFi calls can also save your device’s battery.
  • Cons: It’s a relatively new technology. Therefore, some mobile carriers and handsets don’t support WiFi calls.

It’s the way forward for remote and mobile staff

WiFi 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 WiFi 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 phone even if they’re in the middle of nowhere.

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

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About the author

Joe Manna is a copywriter for Nextiva who obsesses over the Oxford comma, embraces the em dash, and thrives on authoring compelling content to drive people to take action. His marketing expertise has helped companies large and small attract traffic and convert more customers.
 

Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600

See how Nextiva will transform
the way you communicate.


Contact an Amazing Service
Sales Expert
(800) 799-0600

See how Nextiva will transform
the way you communicate.