If you’re not sure what WiFi calling is, why you’d need it, and most importantly, how it works, you’re not alone. WiFi calling is a powerful tool, yet we receive many inquiries on how to best use it. Common questions include, “What are the pros and cons of WiFi calling?” or “Is WiFi calling secure?” Especially for those planning to use it for their business, the desire to know all these details is perfectly understandable.
Therefore, we’ve written this guide to answer all your questions about WiFi calling. And we did our best to outline all the pros and cons of this technology that every business can leverage in the digital age.
What is WiFi calling?
You’ve likely been in an area with poor cell service where you can’t make a call or send messages. Whether it’s on a subway, out in nature, or even while driving through rural areas, we’ve all lost coverage and dropped calls.
WiFi calling allows you to combat this issue, using wireless internet connections to make phone calls and send messages, as opposed to using your cellular service. With this functionality, you can make calls using the WiFi at your home or business, on a public hotspot, or while on-the-go, even if you aren’t near a cell-service tower.
In short, WiFi calling takes advantage of the rapid increase of WiFi availability. Reports show there are 454 million public WiFi hotspots worldwide. This number is projected to grow to 549 million by 2022.
Businesses can also use WiFi calls with their VoIP (voice over internet protocol) communications platform, whether at home, in an office or wherever they have internet access. With more companies opting to go remote or in hybrid work, and 33 percent of Americans still working from home, WiFi calling can provide an inexpensive and efficient means of communication for a distributed team.
What are the pros and cons of WiFi calling?
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages is the best way to assess whether a new technology or process will work for your business and meet your needs. Use this in-depth analysis of both the pros and cons of WiFi calling to better understand how it can support your business communication needs.
WiFi calling offers multiple benefits from cost savings to better quality calls. Before switching to this technology for your business, consider all the benefits that you and your team can leverage for better communication, including:
- Lower expenses: You can eliminate large phone bills each month. Internet calling is significantly cheaper than physical phone lines (landlines) and even your cellular phone plan.
- Better quality: Phone calls over WiFi allow you to conduct location-independent, high-quality calls using existing wireless internet.
- Greater flexibility: You’re not dependent on cellular reception. If you live, work, or travel in areas with poor network coverage, WiFi calling improves your calls’ voice quality, I.E. people can hear you more clearly, without glitches, breaking up, or dropped calls.
- Easy set-up: It’s easy to set up and use. Most smartphones have WiFi calling functionality built-in. You don’t need additional equipment, applications, or software to begin using it.
- Simplified transition: You can streamline your calling experience by using both your existing mobile number and your VoIP phone number.
- Improved battery life: WiFi calling can extend the battery life of your smartphone or device. Searching for cellular networks and coverage is a battery-intensive activity and you eliminate the need for this when using WiFi calling.
- Remote support: Remote work lends itself to WiFi calling as your employees can receive and make calls anywhere with an internet connection. No expensive and cumbersome work phones or great cell service needed. Regardless of where your employees live, they can make and receive high-quality calls with clients and customers. They only need an internet connection 🙂
- Efficient data use: As far as data usage, WiFi calls are very efficient. The amount of data it takes to transfer just voice is much less than video, streaming, or other forms. It puts less of a strain on a WiFi network.
- Reliability: If your phone line at home or your business phone lines in the office go down, WiFi calling can serve as a back-up connection so you’re never without this important form of communication.
While the benefits are many, there are certainly disadvantages of WiFi calling to consider as well. Some of these drawbacks include:
- Lack of broadband access: There are areas without internet access where WiFi calling would be unavailable. According to the FCC, 6 percent of the US population lack access to broadband service at threshold speeds. In rural areas, that jumps to one-fourth of the population.
- International fees: This one depends on how you use WiFi calling. If you’re using your cellular provider, international WiFi calls may still incur a fee. Check with your provider for specifics on costs and details related to their services and fees. On the other hand, you can also call through your Unified Communications platform. By leveraging best-cost routing and other advanced telephony features, platforms like Hubgets will instead enable you to save on international fees.
- Potential lags: WiFi calling quality can lag if you’re in crowded areas where many people use the same wireless network. For example, in airports, shopping malls, or college campuses. This is because the bandwidth is reduced from increased usage, which can cause poor voice quality or dropped calls.
- Technology compatibility: If you have an older smartphone, you might not have WiFi capabilities. See the What if my phone doesn’t have WiFi calling section below for more information on this.
- Switching between cell and WiFi: If you’re using WiFi calling on-the-go and you disconnect from the wireless network, your phone might switch back to the cellular service plan, which could incur fees depending on your plan.
How do I enable WiFi calling?
Enabling WiFi calling on your smartphone is very simple. However, it is device-dependent, with a few differences depending on your carrier. All major carriers currently support WiFi calling on newer devices.
Use these instructions to get started using the two most popular mobile operating systems.
How to turn on WiFi on an iPhone
Mac-enthusiasts might be wondering, where is WiFi calling on an iPhone? To understand how to turn WiFi calling on iPhones, follow these instructions:
- Select settings from the home screen.
- Tap on the Cellular option.
- Under your carrier, select Wi-Fi calling.
- On this screen, you can choose two options, to turn on WiFi calling in general, or the option to prefer WiFi when roaming.
- When you enable WiFi calling, you may be prompted to complete an Emergency 911 address form and accept terms and conditions
- Once selected, you’ll see WiFi after your carrier name on the top left-hand corner of your screen.
As far as which iPhones support WiFi calling, Apple explains that you need “an iPhone 5C or later on a supported carrier.”
How to turn on WiFi on an Android phone
For Android users, the process is equally straightforward:
- Head to settings and select Network and Internet.
- Then choose Mobile network.
- Scroll down to Advanced.
- Under the calling section, toggle Wi-Fi calling on.
Note that Android devices can vary depending on carriers, so you can also use the search function to find this setting.
If you’re not sure you want to start the process and you’d like to know how to turn WiFi calling off, simply reverse the above process, and you’ll go back to using cellular service.
What if my phone doesn’t have WiFi?
If you’re using an older model phone that doesn’t have WiFi calling functionality, there are workarounds you can use to make this work on your current device.
The easiest method is to use a platform like Hubgets and make voice calls or send chat messages using WiFi. Just ask your communications provider 🙂
You can also use free apps like WhatsApp or Google Voice, but these do have a few drawbacks. For example, if you were to disconnect from WiFi while on a call, those apps won’t automatically connect to cellular service to continue your call. Whereas, when the WiFi drops in the middle of a call, Hubgets app is designed to continue the call by using the cellular network, without interrupting the call.
Can you use WiFi calling without cell service?
Yes! That’s one of the main benefits of WiFi calling. If you look at coverage maps from large providers like T-Mobile and AT&T, you’ll notice there are still areas in the US without cell-service coverage, especially in rural or remote locations.
If you have little or non-existent service, you can hop on a WiFi hotspot or WiFi network and make calls through that connection, even if your phone isn’t able to make calls through a traditional cell service tower.
Is WiFi calling secure?
When making WiFi calls, the major carriers typically encrypt your voice. However, you’re at the mercy of the wireless network you use while calling, I.E. your home internet service provider.
In general, however, if using secured WiFi at work, as opposed to at a cafe or another public WiFi option, you can rest assured that it’s secure, as it’s password protected. Public, unsecured wireless hotspots leave you open to hacking and other security risks.
To sum up, WiFi calling is as secure as the WiFi you’re connected to. As with all security measures, simply use sound judgment. Just as you wouldn’t access your banking information on a public, unsecured WiFi network, don’t use those networks for important or sensitive calls either.
How much data does a call through WiFi use?
A voice call via WiFi calling uses approximately 1 MB of data per minute. A video call uses a bit more, with anywhere from 6 to 8 MB per minute. In comparison, streaming services like Netflix use 50 MB of data per minute.
Note that most home internet plans include unlimited data, according to recent reports. In this case, download speed is the largest variable. However, because WiFi calling won’t bog down the network’s bandwidth because it uses so little data, you have little to worry about in terms of data use and incurred fees based on that.
What’s the best phone for WiFi calling?
There’s no one phone that’s best for WiFi calling. Any newer model smartphone will work well with this technology, allowing you to easily enable WiFi calling and an experience that mirrors that of a normal call.
WiFi calling quality only fluctuates based on the wireless internet you’re using, not the device itself. This means most of your employees are likely able to using it right away, without any added costs for device changes or upgrades.
What if my WiFi calling is not working?
While it’s certainly continuously improving, there are a few WiFi calling problems that may occur. If your WiFi calling isn’t working, you can quickly troubleshoot with these steps:
- Check that your device is connected to a wireless network. Then check that wireless network source. You may need to restart your router or try a different hotspot if you’re not using your own personal WiFi at home.
- Confirm that your device allows for WiFi calling. Most new smartphones do. However, if you have an older device, you may not be able to access this feature.
- Ensure your device has WiFi calling turned on in the settings. See the instructions in the How do I enable WiFi calling section in this guide for how to turn it on.
- Check if you need to update your phone’s software to enable WiFi calling.
Leverage WiFi Calling
WiFi calling can be an effective tool for communicating effortlessly and effectively, without spending extra money or worrying about call quality.
For businesses with remote teams, calling via WiFi either from your communications platform or by using your mobile number can be a backup to your networked phone systems. If your employees have a strong internet connection, you can opt to use WiFi calling exclusively, saving costs on equipment, software, and phone services.
WiFi calling is a win-win for every business and budget, making it an important technology to consider in our increasingly digital world.