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January 31, 2019

WiFi Calling 101

wifi_calling

We’ve all been there — in a “dead zone” with no cell service, traveling to a remote location, or in the depths of a building far from a cell tower. Somehow, it always seems like it’s in those exact moments you need to make the most important phone call of your life. With WiFi calling, you may just have that option.

What is WiFi calling?

WiFi Calling is a great new feature on many smartphones that lets you use an Internet connection to make a voice call instead of traditional cellular service. You may have actually already done this using third-party services such as Skype, WhatsApp or Apple’s FaceTime Audio in the past, but now, there are two even easier ways to use WiFi to make and receive phone calls (without using an app at all). These are:

  • Carrier WiFi Calling
  • Phone WiFi Calling

Both of these services allow you to make and receive phone calls when your cellular service is spotty or non-existent, using available WiFi instead. You can tap into your home Internet service, or a WiFi hotspot.

How do I use WiFi calling?

Carrier WiFi calling is offered by only a couple carriers, including Xfinity Mobile. What’s unique about Xfinity’s service compared to most other carriers is that it automatically switches you between available WiFi and cellular networks when needed; in other words, you don’t even need to think about it. Remember that carrier WiFi calling may use cellular at some point, so it’s best used in areas with less-than-stellar service. Carrier WiFi calling is enabled by default on all Xfinity Mobile phones, so you don’t need to do anything to activate it.

Phone WiFi calling is a feature specific to your handset device. All iPhones available on Xfinity’s network have this feature. Turn on WiFi calling in your phone’s Settings (see this article for details). Phone WiFi calling lets you make phone calls in places where you don’t have cellular service, so if your home has some cellphone dead spots, you can still make calls. However, you can also use it when you are outside your cellular provider’s network, and avoid roaming charges.

This is particularly handy for making calls when you are abroad. With Xfinity, WiFi calling is free when you call U.S. numbers from anywhere in the world. Additionally, you can call international numbers over WiFi only, but to avoid any International long-distance rates, set your phone to airplane mode and check that WiFi is turned on.

Should I use WiFi calling?

While the option to use WiFi to make phone calls has been available for some time, what’s new is the ability for your phone to “know” when it needs to switch to WiFi (so you don’t need to use a special WiFi calling app and can call regular phone numbers).

With services such as Skype — which use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) — you have to open an app or have special contacts set up to use it (not to mention, the person you’re calling also needs to have the same service installed). With WiFi calling through your carrier, the service is built in, so you can just dial any number in the usual way and be connected even without cellular service. Also, if your phone is outside of cellular range WiFi, calling will mean you receive calls, too.

So, yes; you should use WiFi calling when you can. And with Xfinity Mobile, it’s entirely free and doesn’t use your minutes, or your data.