Voice over WiFi, also known as VoWiFi is a relatively new technology in the market. Though it was available for the corporate sector for a while, however, its availability for the common masses is relatively a new phenomenon. Because it is new in the market, hardly anyone knows about it. Therefore, we will here provide details of various aspects of VoWiFi to understand it better including its working, advantages, and how to activate it.
What is Voice Over WiFi?
VoWiFi is voice traffic or the messages sent by using a wireless internet connection. For better understanding, you can consider it similar to Skype in working. However, there is some fundamental difference between VoWiFi and messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook. You can directly call or message using a built-in phone dialer and messaging facility if your phone is connected with the WiFi connection.
With VoWiFi you can do phone calls without cellular coverage using the WiFi connection alone. This can prove a game-changer for the areas where cellular coverage is either too weak or non-existing. To use VoWiFi, your phone should have software that is compatible with this feature and a WiFi router that has priority for voice traffic.
How Voice Over WiFi Works?
WiFi calling or Voice over WiFi can take place very conveniently today, thanks to several technological advancements that have taken place over the years in the telecommunication sector. Before Voice Over LTE time, cellular providers transferred voice calls using the conventional circuit-switched networks including GSM and CDMA. On the other hand, for data services, IP dependent packet-switched network was mostly used.
Pic 1: The WiFi calling Icon (Source: https://7labs.io/)
The reason for using two different platforms for the Data and voice calls was that the infrastructure in the past was not advanced enough to transmit voice using data. Since the inception of VoLTE, it becomes possible to send voice and data using the same packet-switched cellular LTE network.
VoWiFi or WiFi Calling allows the transfer of voice data packets over the WiFi with the help of the internet. This way, there is no need to use the common cellular network and calls can take place over the internet as well.
Advantages of Using VoWiFi
VoWiFi provides several advantages over the cellular network. Let’s have a look at some of these advantages.
Better Call Quality
In popular localities where cellular network is not powerful, the making of phone calls, particularly in closed places is a big issue. However, if you are using the VoiceOver WiFi feature, the call quality and very strong irrespective of how powerful is the cellular network coverage in your area.
There is an advantage of using the VoWiFi of better voice quality compared to existing calling sources.
Continuously connectivity with a cellular network is a major issue, particularly when you are staying in a remote area. Fortunately, hotels in these places offer WiFi facilities to their customers. This is where the VoWiFi will benefit you. With VoWiFi, you can call anyone using your smartphone using hotel WiFi.
However, it is important to stay away from the unknown and unreliable WiFi network as it can prove harmful for your data. Always connect with a WiFi network that is private or offered by a reliable source.
Low Battery Consumption
It is a fact that your smartphone consumes more battery when you are connected to a cellular network compared to the WiFi connection. When you are using the WiFi connection to make calls, less battery is consumed as your phone doesn’t need to search for the closest cell towers in the area, particularly in remote locations.
While using the VoWiFi, you can make a call without connecting with the cellular network. Therefore, you can turn on airplane mode to save the battery and still can enjoy phone calls.
Another advantage of using the Voice over WiFi is no or less additional charges. Though, the charges may not differ greatly when you are staying within your country between the ordinary cellular network and VoWiFi. However, VoWiFi is very useful in reducing the call cost when roaming. For example, you are a Canadian citizen and your SIM is registered there. You have to go to the USA for a business tour, you can still do calls and receive them using VoWiFi while staying in the USA.
However, before trying it, talk with your service providing company, how much it costs to do WiFi calls.
How to Enable VoWiFi on Your Smartphone?
To enable VoWiFi, your phone must have relevant software that supports this type of calling in it. If your phone has this feature, you can enable it from the setting menu of your phone. As soon as you turn on this feature on your phone, you will be able to send and receive WiFi calls. Remember, the relevant software is built-in and you don’t need to install any additional apps or software for this purpose.
However, steps to turn on this fascinating feature, every phone required different steps. Currently, only selected phones support the VoWiFi feature, the list of such phones will be provided in the latter half of this article.
Open your iPhone settings section. Click on the option related to Phone Setting. You’ll see the option of WiFi calling in this section. Click on the turn on WiFi calling option to enable it on your phone.
Pic 2: Turn on the WiFi calling option in iPhone to enable it (Source: https://7labs.io/)
The method to enable WiFi calling in the Android set is a little different. Different Android sets have different methods to enable the WiFi calling option. You can enable it by following one of the methods given below:
Open your Android set settings, click on the SIM cards and mobile networks settings. After it, select the SIM, you’ll see the “Make calls using WiFi” option. Click on it to enable WiFi calling.
In another way, open the phone setting, click on the WiFi and internet option. Here you can see SIM and Network settings, click on this option. After it, click the “Select SIM” option. After it, go to the “Enhanced Communications” option. Here you’ll see the “WiFi calling” option. Enable it to enjoy the WiFi calling feature.
In the case of the Phone App, click on the Menu Icon located at the top right side of the app. From here go to Settings and click on the WiFi calling option from settings to enable it.
Pic 3 & 4: How to Enable WiFi Calling on an Android Phone (Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/)
Requirements for VoWiFi to Work Well
There are certain requirements for the Voice Over Calls to work well over your WiFI wireless system. Among these requirements, two are of utmost importance. These requirements are Capacity and Coverage. Your WiFi wireless network must meet these requirements for VoWiFi to work well. The brief details of these two factors are given below.
Here, capacity means, the bandwidth is strong enough to provide VoWiFi facility well without any effect on other services and traffic at the same time. Otherwise, VoWiFi will not work will if bandwidth strength is enough to support other kinds of traffic simultaneously.
Remember, the voice-over WiFi is very sensitive to rapid changes in the capacity of the WiFi network. The higher the capacity, the better will be the quality of these calls.
Coverage is an equally important requirement for the proper working of VoWiFi. By coverage we mean the wireless network coverage is wide enough and it covers all of the areas where you want to make and receive the calls. With limited to no coverage, you can’t take benefit of the VoWiFi facility.
Besides these two requirements, there is no more but a less important requirement. VoWiFi works well on the network which gives top importance to voice traffic.
Make Sure These Things Before Using The VoWiFi
Better Signal Strength and roaming or coverage are the two most important factors to look for before shifting to VoWiFi.
Ensure that all the smart devices are getting a minimum of -67 dBm is the signal strength
To use VoWiFi on your smartphone, make sure none is getting a minimum of -67 dBm in signal strength. Therefore, conduct a test using a similar device on which you are going to have the facility of VoWiFi. The recommended device for this test is your smartphone rather than your tablet or PC.
Ensure that the Wireless Coverage is Sufficient
Make sure, you are getting a signal strength of -67 dBm or more everywhere in your home to the office where you want to use VoWiFi. In case the signal strength is weaker than this recommendation, increase the wireless access points. For this purpose, you may require a setup/system that helps your phone to shift to another access point in case one access point is not providing stronger signal strength.
This type of setup is helpful in two ways. First, it not allows one connection or device to consume more capacity than other devices but also allows you to walk to other places in the home while talking to anyone.
Devices that Support VoWiFi Calling
Though, the VoWiFi is a recent technology, yet, there are quite a few devices from various companies that support this feature. As of January 2021, only three smartphone manufacturing companies are offering this feature. Let’s have a look at these devices.
Currently, Apple offers a VoWiFi feature in at least 6 iPhone models. The name of these models are as follows:
- iPhone 11 / Pro / Max
- iPhone XS / XS Maax
- iPhone X
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 8 / 8 Plus
- iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
Samsung is offering a VoWiFi feature in more than 15 Phone models. The name of these models are as follows:
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
- Samsung Galaxy S20 / Plus / Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 / 10 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S10 / Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Samsung Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy A80
- Samsung Galaxy A71 / A70
- Samsung Galaxy A50s / A50
- Samsung Galaxy A30s / A30
- Samsung Galaxy A10s / A10
- Samsung Galaxy A01
Huawei is offering VoWiFi feature in at least three of its models. The name of these models are as follows:
- Huawei Mate 10
- Huawei Mate 20 / Pro
- Huawei Mate P30 / Pro / Lite
Frequently Asked Question Regarding VoWiFi
How to Make WiFi Calls?
Normally, for WiFi calling, no extra software is required to do calls. For this purpose, you only need a device that supports WiFi calling. With VoWiFi supporting device, you just need to turn on the feature and connect the device with the WiFi network to achieve the desired results.
How do you activate VoWiFi?
VoWiFi has a separate icon, present close to the signal icon on the upper side of the screen. It is close to the icon of LTE signals, and we are all familiar with this kind of signal. When VoWiFi is active, you can see its icon easily there.
How much does VoWiFi cost?
VoWiFi is not free of cost. The cost of voice over WiFi calls is the same as your active call or message package obtained from the cellular company. In case, you have no package subscription, the normal rate of calls will apply on voice over WiFi calls as well.
How is VoWiFi different from VoLTE?
Though, these terms are identical, but, technically they are different. VoLTE helps cellular in transmitting the voice and internet data through the same channel. However, the VoWiFi uses a different technique and uses the WiFi network to transfer voice data, rather than through the cellular channels.
VoWiFi or Voice Over WiFi has numerous advantages over VoLTE. For example, VoWiFi is particularly useful in the areas where the cellular network is weak or unavailable. Besides this, it has another advantage including better call quality, reliable connectivity, low battery consumption, and low cost. Currently, VoWiFi use is limited to a small number of users, however, in the future, its use is expected to rise tremendously.