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Wi-Fi calling

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Wi-Fi calling is software used to place and receive calls over Wi-Fi on a smartphone, which would typically use a cellular connection for calls. The ability to use Wi-Fi calling is sometimes provided as a phone feature.

Using Wi-Fi calling can save minutes on cellular subscriptions or even avoid the requirement for the contract altogether, given the availability of Wi-Fi. The software, which benefits from the higher bandwidth of Wi-Fi, can also handle texts.

Wi-Fi calling transmits the same cellular data packets as a Wi-Fi VOIP through a Wi-Fi connection and across the internet. From the internet, the data is passed to the cellular network and then back to the answering party. Wi-Fi calling must be supported by the smartphone (see: Wi-Fi cell phone). When enabled, the feature is used automatically when the device is connected to Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi calling also refers to the use of computers and mobile devices for audio communication across Wi-Fi to telephone numbers through a specialized app and web service. People use this type of Wi-Fi calling to avoid paying for phone service. Some apps allow the use of a real number for inbound calls for free. Providers enabled the smartphone feature to avoid losing customers walking to these apps.

This was last updated in July 2018

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