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Can You Use Wifi to Make Calls? If so, How?

Woman connecting to WiFi.

No matter what mobile carrier you use, there are times when it’s nice to have an alternate way to make and receive phone calls or text messages. If you experience poor call quality, dropped calls, or are frequently in an area without a cell signal, using your phone’s Wi-Fi calling feature can solve this problem. Wait…what?

Can you use Wi-Fi to make calls? Yes, you can! I was shocked by this too.

What is Wi-Fi Calling?

You may not have ever noticed that your phone has a feature for Wi-Fi calling. If you are someone who only uses their phone to make occasional calls, text, and plays games while waiting in line at the grocery store, you wouldn’t even know it was there. This feature can be used when a cell signal is not available.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to this option, however. But for the most part, there are more + than -.

What You Need to Know About Wi-Fi Calling

Woman calling on the phone.

WiFi calling is the same as regular calling, except your carrier routes the call over an available WiFi network instead of its cellular network. Your mobile device can be set to automatically choose the strongest signal and switch when needed. That means if you are in an area with poor reception or a weak signal, your phone will switch to an available Wi-Fi signal until reception improves.

Requires a strong and reliable Wi-Fi connection for the best call quality.

What Benefits Does Wi-Fi Calling Offer?

Businessman calling on the phone.

Many people are working differently these days. The workplace is changing and many people work remotely, or may commute for work and need a reliable connection to the outside world. 

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You can make calls from anywhere, as long as there is a strong Wi-Fi signal. The question you are probably asking is, “How is this a benefit if I have to have Wi-Fi?” Well, depending on where you are, your phone can pick up Wi-Fi networks and use them to piggyback from. 

Meaning that you could use your home Wi-Fi connection, a free Wi-Fi Hotspot, or one of the many network connections all over the world. You can download free WiFi locator apps like Wiman Free Wi-Fi for Android and Wi-Fi Finder+Map for iOS to access 60 million hotspots worldwide,

This is a great benefit to people who travel for work because they are not limited by their phone carrier’s restrictions. And many businesses (hotels, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, etc) have free Wi-Fi. 

One reason that this option is popular with travelers is that you can make calls back home without incurring long-distance or international calling charges. These features are already built-in to your phone plan, and Wi-Fi calling is included. Carriers treat WiFi calls just like any other cellular call from the U.S.

If you are outside your calling area you can use Wi-Fi calling and not be charged for roaming. 

Important note! You may be charged for calls made to international numbers outside your calling plan. If you currently get free calls to the US & Canada, then you will not be charged for calls to the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico.

It also does not count against your minutes. Calls to international numbers are charged at the rate set by your carrier plan. 

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What’s the Difference Between VoIP and WiFi Calling?

Mobile phone connected on Wifi.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), is another way of sending communications over the internet. Sounds the same as Wi-Fi calling. Well, not quite.

It is similar because it uses the same protocol and method of delivery. However, it is different in the way that VOIP uses designated equipment (VOIP phone, router, etc) to record your voice and send it to a digitization portal before being forwarded as a data packet. It still uses a cellular connection.

Wi-Fi calling uses Wi-Fi networks in place of cell towers, so you don’t require a cell signal to make or receive calls. 

Pros and Cons of Wi-Fi Calling

Pros

  • Calls can be made over a Wi-Fi network
  • The feature is built into most devices
  • Uses your existing phone number
  • Works in areas without a cell signal
  • No need for additional hardware
  • Wi-Fi calling is supported in over 200 countries

Cons

  • Not supported in every country (Australia, India, Cuba, Singapore, North Korea, and China)
  • Not supported on every phone
  • 911 calls not included
  • Wi-Fi Hotspots are not always available

FAQs

What phones support Wi-Fi Calling?

Android phones, iPhones, and some other mobile devices. To check if your phone supports Wi-Fi Calling, go to “Settings” and look for the Wi-Fi Calling option. Test it to see if it works.

Some phones will show the option but will display an error message when trying to enable it. 

Can I send text messages over Wi-Fi?

Yes, texting is enabled for Wi-Fi calling in SMS mode. Depending on your carrier, you may need data to send picture messages.

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Can Wi-Fi Calling Be Hacked?

No, your mobile carrier uses automatic voice encryption regardless of whether a call is routed through a cellular network or a Wi-Fi connection. Even if you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection, your calls should be safe from hackers.

Can I Use Wi-Fi Calling Overseas?

Making Wi-Fi calls to a U.S. phone number while you are overseas is free. However, if you call an overseas number you will be charged the international rate. To be on the safe side, you should check to make sure it is covered in your calling plan.

What Speed Would My Internet Connection Have to Be?

Your internet doesn’t have to be lightning-fast to make calls over Wi-Fi. Typically, a minimum of 2 Mbps is recommended for the best quality. 

Turn on Wi-Fi Calling

(Android)

  • From the home screen, tap Settings.
  • Go to Network and Internet
  • Select Mobile Network or Advanced Calling (different phones may have different names)
  • Toggle Wi-Fi Calling on.

(iPhone)

  • Go to Settings – Network and Internet – Calls & SMS.
  • Scroll down and look for Wi-Fi calling, tap on it, then toggle on “Use Wi-Fi calling.”
  • You will see the “Wi-Fi Calling” symbol next to your carrier’s name in the notification area on your phone.

You can also make calls on other connected devices like iPad,iPod Touch, Mac, and Apple Watch. You just need to add them to your connected devices. 

Place a Call Using Wi-Fi

If you have Wi-Fi Calling enabled on your phone, all you have to do is dial a number the same way you would for any other type of call. When you’re connected, you’ll see “Internet Call” or “Wi-Fi calling” on the notification screen.

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If your phone doesn’t support this function, you can use one of the apps mentioned below. 

Make Calls with Google Duo or Other Calling Apps

For those who are unable to use their phone’s Wi-Fi calling option, you can still access this by using one of the many calling apps such as Skype, Google Duo, WhatsApp, Text Now, Signal, WeChat, Telegram, and FaceTime. To get these apps, just go to your Google Play or Apple Store and download them to your phone. 

Open the app and create your account. Follow the prompts on-screen to set up the app for first-time use. Skype and Text Now will give you a dedicated phone number to use, which can be used as a second line.

Skype requires membership to call landlines and mobile phones of non-Skype users.

This is a game-changer for businesses. The workplace is changing more and more every day. In the past few years, employers and employees are finding new ways to get the work done.

More people work from various locations around the world and need more flexibility. Wi-Fi calling helps you stay connected, even in remote areas. You never have to worry about not having a cell signal when you need to make a call to your boss, a co-worker, or when calling home.

Sources:

support.apple.com – Make a call with Wi-Fi Calling

support.google.com – Make calls over Wi-Fi