WiFi Calling: Everything You Need to Know
Weak or nonexistent cell signal preventing you from making and receiving calls? WiFi calling, supported by most phones, is a nifty and free solution. What is WiFi calling, and how do I best use it? Here you’ll find everything you need to know about WiFi calling.
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What is WiFi Calling?
WiFi calling is a service that allows you to make calls and send texts over a WiFi network rather than a cellular network. When you’re struggling to send a message or maintain a call because of poor cell signal, WiFi calling can help. It’s a great way to remain connected in establishments and vehicles where WiFi connectivity is available.
What Do I Need to Use WiFi Calling?
To use WiFi calling:
- Your Android or iPhone must support WiFi calling.
- Your carrier must offer WiFi Calling (which most do in the US).
- The WiFi network you’re connected to must support WiFi calling.
- Depending on your carrier, HD Voice must be activated on your smartphone (usually activated by default).
Use the following links to check your carriers WiFi calling requirements:
How Does WiFi Calling Work?
Calls made over WiFi go through the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system. It converts voice and SMS into digital signals that travel via the internet. Those signals are routed to your carrier, converted to cellular, and sent to the recipient. The whole process occurs within seconds.
VoIP is the same technology used by popular apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger to make calls. With WiFi calling, however, recipients don’t have to have the app or click links to establish a connection.
Turning on WiFi calling doesn’t mean your calls and text will always route via WiFi when connected to a compatible network. Your phone will connect to the strongest connection available, be it WiFi or cellular. Handing off a call from one network to the other is usually seamless.
Why Should I Use WIFi Calling?
It’s simple. To talk and text from almost anywhere.
WiFi calling gives you the ability to get around finicky cell reception, reducing dropped calls and undelivered texts. In cellular dead spots, WiFi calling can be extremely beneficial during emergencies.
How to Turn on WiFi Calling
WiFi calling is not turned on by default on any phone. Here’s how to enable WiFi calling on your iPhone or Android:
iPhone WiFi Calling
Image source: iDB
- Make sure your device is connected to a WiFi network.
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Cellular.
- Toggle WiFi Calling On.
- Tap Enable.
If turning on WiFi calling for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter your address in case of emergencies. Address can be changed later through the WiFi Calling Settings screen by tapping Update Emergency Address.
Android WiFi Calling
Turning on WiFi calling on Androids will vary across models. In general, though:
- Make sure your device is connected to a WiFi network.
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Connections / Voice Networks / Calls (varies across Androids).
- Toggle WiFi Calling On.
If turning on WiFi calling for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter your address in case of emergencies. Address can be changed later through the WiFi Calling Settings screen by tapping Emergency Address.
How Can I Tell if a Call is Using WiFi Calling?
If you’re connected to a WiFi network that supports WiFi calling:
- Apple users will see “Wi-Fi” on the status bar when using WiFi calling.
- Android users will see a WiFi calling icon on the status bar or dialing keypad. Though, it varies across Android devices.
Not seeing these indicators means your calls or texts aren't being relayed over WiFi. There are multiple reasons why this could happen. The most common being:
- The WiFi network does not support WiFi calling.
- Your phone’s call settings do not match your carriers' requirements.
- Your phone has determined available cell signal is better suited to transfer your call or text.
Does WiFi Calling Use the Data on My Plan?
Since calls and texts are handled through a WiFi network, using WiFi calling will not consume your mobile data. It does, however, use the WiFi network's data.
How Much Bandwidth Does WiFi Calling Use?
According to Verizon, voice calling uses about 1-5 MB of bandwidth, and a 1-minute video call uses 6-30 MB depending on resolution. These numbers are pure estimates, actual data usage varies.
While WiFi calling does not require a significant amount of bandwidth on its own, it can bottleneck a busy network. You’ll be able to make calls and send texts, but quality and speed will be lacking. In some cases, WiFi calls drop.
Where Can I Use WiFi Calling?
WiFi calling can be used practically anywhere WiFi connectivity is available. Shopping centers, airports, restaurants, businesses, hospitals, and the like.
There are apps available to help you find a WiFi hotspot in a pinch. Apple users can download WiFi Finder and Android users can download WiFi Map. Both are WiFi hotspot databases with millions of recorded WiFi hotspots worldwide.
Be careful when connecting to public WiFi networks. Oftentimes, they are not secure. This makes it easy for hackers to intercept your data. They are also usually congested, meaning your WiFi call will be competing for bandwidth. We recommend investing in a portable cellular hotspot, cellular router, or VPN if you roam frequently and have sensitive data. Here are some of our most popular cellular routers and hotspots:
Peplink MAX BR1 Mini
The Peplink Max BR1 Mini is a compact cellular router that easily fits any vehicle. It uses 4G and LTE signals to keep multiple devices connected almost anywhere. Dual SIM capable, it can take two SIM cards from any carrier for always-on connectivity. Rather than searching the city for a hotspot, you’ll have a secure one right in your vehicle. You can easily control how many devices are connected at a time to get the best results. Use it for WiFi calling, streaming, browsing the web, and more.
Peplink MAX BR1 Pro 5G
The MAX BR1 PRO 5G is a cellular router that offers a more robust connection than the MAX BR1 Mini. 5G ready, enjoy the speed and responsiveness of the new-gen network anywhere it's available. WiFi calls will be crystal clear. In non-5G areas, WiFi is powered by 4G and LTE. Built to handle up to 160 devices simultaneously, you don’t have to worry about WiFi calls dropping or texts not sending due to an overloaded network.
Pro Tip: Upgrading your mobile hotspot's cellular antennas, if possible, can help deliver a stronger signal directly to the router. This will increase your WiFi’s performance, even in areas with weak cell signal. Thanks to a stronger signal, WiFi calling can sometimes be more reliable than cellular. The Poynting Puck Antenna and Poynting MIMO Antenna are great options. Visit Ways to Get Better Signal on Your Cellular Router for additional methods.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of WiFi Calling?
- Offers more places to call and text from.
- Helps keep you connected in areas with poor to no cellular signal.
- Improves voice quality in weak signal areas.
- Saves your mobile data.
- Free to use.
- It’s built into your device so you don’t need to download an app or purchase special equipment.
- When traveling internationally, it can be used to make calls and send texts to the US without incurring international charges.
- By reducing the continuous search for a reliable signal, WiFi calling helps extend battery life.
- Overloaded WiFi networks can result in inadequate WiFi signal strength. This leads to poor voice quality, dropped calls, and undelivered texts.
- Some cellular devices and WiFi networks do not support WiFi calling.
- There are international call restrictions. While most carriers support international WiFi calls to the US, they may not support WiFi calls to other countries.
- A WiFi hotspot is not always within reach when on the go.
Why Does My Phone Drop Calls on WiFi?
There are a couple of reasons why your calls may be dropping while connected to WiFi:
- Your WiFi Network is Overloaded – WiFi networks can only handle so many devices at a time. Bandwidth is limited when multiple devices are sending and receiving data. Thus, your WiFi call may drop or be of very low quality. If possible, try making WiFi calls when there is less congestion. Otherwise, you’ll have to use your cellular signal.
- You’re On the Edge of the WiFi Coverage – WiFi routers have limited coverage. Under optimal conditions, WiFi signals can reach about 150 ft from the router on the 2.4 GHz frequency. The higher the frequency, the less reach. When on the edge of the coverage bubble, WiFi signal may not be strong enough to maintain a WiFi call. Try moving closer to the router to get a stronger signal.
- Calls are Constantly Bouncing Between WiFi and Cellular – WiFi calls are handed off to cellular when a decent cellular signal is detected, and vice versa. In an area where both networks are available, the constant handoff can cause your call to drop. Either turn off WiFi calling and use cellular or turn on airplane mode and use WiFi calling.
- Your Operating System is Not Up to Date – Carries advise phones have the latest operating system installed to use WiFi calling. WiFi calls may drop when using an old OS. Ensure you have the latest operating system installed to fix dropped WiFi calls.
What if I Can’t Use WiFi Calling?
Unfortunately, WiFi calling has its drawbacks and is not the best option in every situation. So, whether your phone doesn’t support it or the WiFi network is congested, there is a better, more reliable solution. That is a cell phone signal booster for your home, office, or vehicle.
Cell phone boosters take your weak outside cell signal, strengthen it, and rebroadcast it indoors. See here for a breakdown of how signal boosters work.
Areas that used to have little to no cell service will be transformed. You'll experience better voice quality, fewer dropped calls, and faster data speeds. Whiles these are the same benefits WiFi calling offers, a cellular booster offers more reliable results.
What's more, with a reliable cell signal, you can offload congestion from a busy WIFi network. Your device, as well as others, will not have to compete for bandwidth. When paired with a cellular router or hotspot, WiFi performance increases.
Here are our top cell signal boosters:
Bolton Technical Victory Yagi/Panel Kit
- For Small to Medium Size Homes and Offices
- Covers Up to 4,000 Sq Ft
- Up to +72 dB Gain
- Up to 26 dBm Uplink Power
- Supports All Carriers Simultaneously
The Bolton Victory Yagi/Panel cellular booster is our top pick for most homes. Under optimal conditions, it can blanket up to 4,000 sq ft with stronger cell reception, which is more than enough for most people. Featuring up to 26 dBm uplink and up to 72 dB gain, it has incredible reach and can significantly improve cell reception. Strategically paired with the Bolton Quicksilver Outdoor Yagi Antenna, it works wonders in areas with weak signal.
If cell reception is decent outside, but horrible inside, the Victory Omni/Panel may be a better option for you.
Cel-Fi by Nextivity GO X
- For Large Homes and Offices
- Covers Up to 15,000 Sq Ft
- Up to +100 dB Gain
- Amplifies One Carrier at a Time
The GO X is by far the most powerful signal booster for large homes and small businesses in the market. Because it can only amplify one carrier at a time, it offers up to +100 dB gain. That’s +30 dB or up to 1000x more power than multi-carrier boosters. Through the Cel-Fi Wave app, you can change which carrier you'd like to boost.
Capable of covering up to 15,000 sq ft, cellular devices will receive superior cell signal throughout for reliable calls, texting, and data. You will not need to rely on a congested WiFi network ever again to call over WiFi.
Here is our thorough GO X Review.
SureCall Flare 4G 3.0 Signal Booster
- Best for Small Homes or 1-2 rooms
- Up to +72 dB Gain
- Covers up to 4,000 Sq. Ft.
- Complete Kit, Easy Install
- Supports Multiple Devices at the Same Time
The SureCall Flare 4G 3.0 Signal Booster works best for small homes or 1-2 rooms. The booster comes with an outdoor directional Yagi antenna, and a 2-in-1 amplifier/indoor antenna combo.
Cover up to 4,000 square feet under perfect conditions. Indoor coverage area will vary based on the available outdoor signal. Expect between 1000 to 2000 sq ft in a rural area.
Bolton Technical Velocity Vehicle Kit
- For Everyday Vehicles
- Up to +50 dB Gain
- Boosts 4G LTE Signals and is 5G Ready
- Simple Installation
- Works with All North American Wireless Carriers
The Velocity Vehicle cellular signal booster gets you better reception in your car anywhere on the road. This kit will boost cellular voice and data for every carrier. It is designed for all vehicles, from hatch backs to minivans to pickups.
weBoost Drive Reach
- Up to 50 dB Gain
- Support Multiple Carriers Simultaneously
- Easy Install
- Fits Different Vehicle Types
You don’t need to stop at every available hotspot when on the go to make a call. The Drive Reach can blanket your vehicle's cabin with strong cell signal relatively everywhere.
It features up to +50 dB gain and 2x more uplink than other boosters in its class. This allows farther reach to towers and great signal amplification. You can make calls, send texts, and use the GPS from the comfort of your vehicle.
Versatile, it can fit cars, SUVs, overlanders, trucks, or boats.
WiFi Calling FAQs
Does My Carrier Support WiFi Calling?
Most likely. All US carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Cricket, Boost, etc.) support WiFi calling. Each carrier’s WiFi calling regulations may differ. Contact your carrier about any specific WiFi calling questions you may have.
What if My Phone Doesn’t Support WiFi Calls?
You have two options:
- Upgrade your phone to one that supports WiFi calling to take advantage of the feature.
- Invest in a signal booster to strengthen your cellular signal at home or on the go.
How Much Does WiFi Calling Cost?
Calls and texts within the US and to the US from other countries are free. Charges may apply when using WiFi calling to call other countries while in or out of the US. This may vary across providers. Contact your carrier to verify.
Can WiFi Calling be Used to Make International Calls?
Yes, but charges may apply. Reach out to your carrier for more info on international WiFi calling rates.
Does WiFi Calling Work on Airplane Mode?
Yes. Turning on Airplane Mode forces your device to use WiFi calling only. If cell signal is available, this trick will prevent your phone from jumping between the two networks.
Contact Us to Strengthen Your Cell Signal
WiFi calling is convenient, but not always dependable. Strengthening cellular signal in your building or vehicle is the best way to reduce dropped calls, improve voice quality, and boost data.
Signal Boosters is a leading provider of cell phone signal boosters, cellular routers, and accessories. We’re here to assist with any questions you may have. Contact us today via phone (1-800-470-6777) or email (email@example.com).
Interested in Learning More? Check Out Our Cellular Info Hub / WiFi Info Hub