back to article Americans in Europe like using Wi-Fi calling, Ericsson discovers

Research from Ericsson shows that people like using Wi-Fi calling, the service which can act as a replacement for a mobile phone network. The big thing which differentiates Wi-Fi calling from other forms of VoIP is that it’s part of the IMS 3GPP standard. It doesn’t need any apps and ties in neatly to your phone number, …

  1. ZSn


    Speaking as a tightwad abroad, how does one go about using this? Is it provider/os/application dependent? Would a windows phone (no sniggering at the back) be able to handle it? You said that it's a 3g standard, however do the OS's support it by default.

    Lazy, bone-idle minds would like to know...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How?

      It is not really standardized, doesn't work all that well, etc. but Americans in London like it because the alternative is being raped by overseas call charges from American carriers, or dealing with the hassle of trying to switch SIMs which may not be doable if you bought your phone on contract and it is still locked.

      My carrier doesn't support it yet, so hopefully they'll get it sorted by the time AT&T gets around to supporting it.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: How?

        Err.. @DougS: actually, it is standardized, part of the IMS 3GPP specs (as the article helpfully notes). And it works really, really, well. I've been happily using it with T-Mobile USA for at least 5 years (the first time in the UK was in late 2010, when I happily connected to a BT hotspot in the Highlands and got cellphone coverage where no-one else could, and without roaming (to call the USA, naturally). Network performance is an issue, and it will refuse to enable itself if the network connection isn't satisfactory, but it works with a Three WiFi dongle, but not with a satellite service.

        On American Airlines aircraft in flight, it's used to provide SMS access (for free), although not voice (thank god). MMS doesn't work unless you've bought the generic internet access service (from Gogo Inflight), which is totally acceptable once you've figured out your phones predilection for using MMS instead of simple SMS.

        It's supported on T-Mobile's higher end phones, including Android, iOS and Windows. Right out of the box, too: you just select WiFi preferred, Cellular preferred, or never use Cellular. The only snag is that if you are used to wandering around while on the phone, you have to remember not to walk too far away from the hotspot.

        Of course, these days it's less essential, since T-Mobile has essentially given up raping for international calling, data services and SMS in a reasonable number of countries (including the UK); (sure, the free data rate is capped at 128Kbps, but it means that e.g. Google Maps "just works", to the extent that it just works anywhere, when I walk out of an airport in Europe, Israel, etc.

  2. John Tserkezis

    "The company claims that using Wi-Fi calling while overseas could lead to your phone handing off between cellular and Wi-Fi, which could lead to your being charged twice."

    Sure, they would really care about that - and nothing to do with the fact that the customer would be paying much, much more using regular voice channels.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Quite, and it's total BS: the implementations I've used (Three in the UK, T-Mobile in the US) solve the problem by NOT handing off: if you lose WiFi, the call drops, and if you place the call on the cell network, it will not hand off to WiFi. You can tell the (T-Mobile) phone which to prefer if both are available, and you can block the use of the cell network.

  3. Candy

    About that O2 App.

    It's appallingly bad. And only available in beta. And then only to business users. (At least so the app itself says.)

    It misses calls, drops messages, has terrible voice quality and has a mediaeval interface.

    Apart from that, it's fine.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: About that O2 App.

      The Three one has similar flaws.

      For some reason it even tried stopping me from using it as my phone is rooted; having root of course I just used RootCloak to get around this. I've used it once since but keep it around in case I happen to be abroad and somewhere where a wifi network has enough bandwidth to support an actual voice call.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The mobile networks have a golden opportunity here to get one over on Skype etc that have taken some is their roaming business.

    It's not just about roaming though this will have a massive effect on mobile coverage of you can simply use the WiFi in any home. This will also have the knock on benefit that it takes people off the mobile network and frees up space on the local cell tower. Win win all round. Is Vodafone customers can then ditch our unreliable Sure Signals (admittedly most likely for unreliable WiFi calling instead but at least there's no hardware cost).

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Yup. My mother-in-law uses it to get calls to her cell phone in her bunker of an office: not a hint of a cellular signal, but her mobile number works as expected. It's also great for some small communities that have landline coverage, and therefore internet and WiFi, but not much in the way of cell coverage because the population density is too low for anyone to care.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Do you really need it?

    With apps like Skype you can use WiFi to make your calls.

    Then many countries are free from roaming now on some networks

    Has its time passed?

    Well maybe not for Americans. Some of their 'calling plans' are just silly in terms of Cost.

    For myself, having just returned from the Middle East where phoning home is a cool £2.00/min, diving into a Cafe with free WiFi is well worth the high cost of a Coffee. Even a £5.00 Latte is cheap after 5 mins on the phone not paying £10.00 for the calls.

    1. James 100

      Re: Do you really need it?

      Skype's little use for incoming calls, unless you set up forwarding and rely on that.

      Since they've gone to the effort and expense of creating their own "apps" to deliver it, clearly O2 and Three DO think it's worth doing - though apparently not worth the effort to get the proper standard working, instead of relying on proprietary hacks - and I for one would indeed find it useful.

      Even without roaming, plenty of places here in Scotland have no mobile signal, but do have Wifi. Enabling this would mean my phone could actually function as a phone in those places - and without needing Skype installed and set up, with credit, and even then it's effectively outgoing only unless you mess around with call forwarding. I already pay my phone company to provide calls and text services: why would I want to duplicate that badly with Skype, when I could just use my existing service over Wifi instead?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have been using UMA on a Blackberry for years from Orange. This works well for me as I have a house which has no mobile coverage at all. As per one of the earlier comments this works well for inbound calls where the caller does not know your location and skype is not their first choice when they want to make contact. I am looking around now for the next move, all Orange/EE offer for wifi calling is Iphone and I rather like my reliable, long batterylife Blackberry. Have also used abroad on wifi without picking up additional charges. Good system. Why all the hype and calling it by another name?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Try Bria supplied by Counterpath, Excellent, no additional charging

    1. kpanchev

      Re: Bria

      Why would anyone pay for an app to do SIP calls, when there are shitload of them around for free? And don't forget, for SIP calling you need to set up additional account and pay for it, it does not come from your mobile service, it has a different number and although very good it is not ready for the general Joe, especially if the forementioned Joe is an American (no offence, but this is my experience with people from over the pond)

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