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AT&T not in a rush, will offer Wi-Fi calling in 2015

AT&T has plans to start offering Wi-Fi calling support by 2015. The system would allow subscribers to place calls using their phone's Wi-Fi connection instead of the cellular network. If that sounds familiar, it should, as T-Mobile has offered Wi-Fi calling for years now, and even dedicated their Uncarrier 7.0 press event to expanding on the concept.

AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions CEO Ralph de la Vega spoke at the Communacopia Conference in New York City, saying that while AT&T is working on implementing Wi-Fi calling support for their network, it's not a pressing matter for them. But with the upcoming iOS 8 offering support, carriers might find more pressure from consumers to offer support.

Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone all already offer built-in support for Wi-Fi calling, so once iOS 8 is released next week all smartphones will support the feature. So it's a matter for the carriers of ensuring their networks can seamlessly handle the hand-off from Wi-Fi to cellular when a user leaves the Wi-Fi network, and then flipping the proverbial switch.

Source: Light Reading

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

66 Comments
  • Verizon would be nice for this option as well
  • Once it's implemented, they will more than likely charge wifi calling minutes against your cap.
  • Doubtful.
  • Somehow AT&T will find a way to make millions off of this.
  • Doubtful. If you have unlimited minutes ... using wifi minutes won't be any different.... People won't pay for two separate minute pools.
  • Against your minute cap? Sure, the AT&T microcell does that now. Might affect some people, but everyone I know is on unlimited minutes anyway. Against your data cap? No way, you aren't using any cellular data. If you could you could just make a voice call instead. You're using Wifi by definition.
  • Unlimited minutes? Not me. I'm on att unlimited data and I rather have that than unlimited calls.
  • Except you get throttled after 3GB or 5GB or whatever, so the only difference is your speeds slow down instead of getting charged an overage.
  • I still get 1/2 Mbps. Still fast enough to stream music, make calls via hangouts, browse the web, watch videos. I'm good with unlimited.
  • I agree unlimited data is still capped just no overage if u use excessively AT&T will suspend data for excessive use so just saying isnt that great anymore Posted via the Android Central App
  • I never heard of no such thing. I use plenty of data and never had an issue with excessive overage.
  • I seriously doubt since AT&T is unlimited calling unless your grandfather into the older plans but the whole purpose of wifi calling so it can be free calls so i doubt but we will see Posted via the Android Central App
  • Correct me if I'm wrong (if anyone knows), but doesn't Android L have a lot of enhancements to VoLTE / Wi-Fi calling support?
  • Please, someone correct them if wrong... I'd love to see this on my nexus on tmobile.
  • +1
  • As best as I understand it, Wi-Fi calling requires configuration information, not provided by the SIM. Thus, I think it highly unlikely that non-carrier branded handsets will support it. Dan Posted via Android Central App
  • but it's baked into iOS... I KNOW that's not carrier branded software....
  • Hopefully Posted via Android Central App
  • Google Hangouts! Posted via Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah, now that Hangouts is doing VOIP, I could care less if the carriers finally update their service you offer VOIP. Hell, now with Hangouts, you don't even need a cellular service anymore ... all you need is WIFI. I can imagine that will suffice for a lot of people; especially those that are looking to save a good chunk of money each month/year.
  • You *couldn't* care less. Couldn't. As in you care so little, you couldn't possibly care any less. You're welcome :-) Posted via Android Central App
  • LOL - a grammar snob, just like me! Smart-ass. :-) Posted via the Android Central App
  • I wish they would give free music streaming like T Mobile....
  • That'll probably never happen. Posted via Android Central App
  • Lol late to the game Posted via Android Central App
  • They don't need wifi calling, their service is excellent.. T-mobile does, theirs isn't Nexus 4 - CM10.1.3
  • WiFi calling has nothing to do with "sucky" service.... There are some places or areas NO! company can get to. Posted via Android Central App
  • LIke at my house...I just got a work phone through AT&T - ZERO bars, well, actually, no service. Verizon has full service out there. WiFi calling would help me do business at home. Please contact me if you have an idea for me.
  • Go to att and get a micro cell box gives you 4 bars.I have a metal roof on my house works great
  • For real. T-mobile apologists will defend them to the ends of the earth. I know this from experience, even in cities with supposed full lte coverage their signal is terrible and full of dead spots and dropped calls. It's just one of the many reasons I finally ditched that joke of a company. So their answer is to piggy back their signal off my own WiFi where bandwidth is already stretched? Lol t-mobile no.
  • @ Sean - You realize this is about AT&T doing the same thing as T-Mobile right? Just sayin :). Also to everyone -- This is about off-loading traffic from the towers to wifi ... Sure it helps with "dead spots" in the home but ... It is mainly to get rid of the load on the towers.
  • No its not. AT&T is adding a feature to keep up with the times, and mainly because with iPhone adding the feature customers will demand it. They're not doing it because their network is terrible. Huge difference there.
  • @Sean - From your knowledge yeah -- But until AT&T confirms why .. You never know. AT&T is good .. Not saying it isn't .. but all carriers do have dead spots .. Just depends on the building .. basements are a dead spot for anyone. When I was trying Verizon I had spots where Verizon struggled even on 3G whereas T-Mobile it was great ... On the flip side there were areas the LTE was better than T-Mobiles. Carriers depend on the area. There is no "one size fits everyone" carrier. Wifi calling does nothing but benefit customers...and also is a benefit for the carrier because they can off-load that traffic.
  • Yeah, t-mobile/Verizon, it's a push. Same difference. Pfft. And I'm not saying WiFi calling is bad in general, but if I'm paying one of these guys $80 a month for cell service, and can't even use it in my house and other areas and have to fall back on Internet calling, which I can do for free, I don't see it as "nothing but a benefit".
  • @ Sean - Well you are welcome to your opinion .. and wifi calling is an option (not forced) so you can always turn it off... but for most it can benefit them more than hurt them. I agree I pay T-Mobile $80 but I get service everywhere... So that is why I use them ... If I got crap service from them you can bet I would be else where. I have tried AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile for my area ... So I know what to expect ... I just simply went with T-Mobile for the unlimited data and the service is great for my city. As for the wifi calling I like it. I would rather have it as an option than not .. on AT&T or T-Mobile .. Or any carrier. Never know when you may need it .. May hit that dead spot .. Doesn't hurt to flip a switch and be able to use what is around... But of course you shouldn't use it as a scapegoat to coverage... Hence why we have choices in wireless ... One carrier doesn't work? Go elsewhere. Just because one carrier doesn't work for you doesn't mean others are wrong for using it ...
  • You are a knucklehead and probably a customer of AT&T, If Apple bakes that service into their OS most would assume it is not to keep T-Mobile customers happy. It is just smart technology. I don't have ATT because they don't have good service where I live and I live in a suburb right outside Boston. ATT could use that same service for the same reason. Their service isn't everywhere, just like all other Carriers.
  • Name calling. Very classy. I won't even get into your fundamental misunderstanding of my comment.
  • No reason to be rude guys --- Just a misunderstanding. My main thing is since wifi calling is an option .. it is nothing more than a benefit for users. You can chose to use it .. or toggle it off.
  • Every company has dead spots.. And there are spots no company can reach Posted via Android Central App
  • Then why is att doing it, their service must be bad then, according to sean Posted via Android Central App
  • Not what I said at all. But keep on misrepresenting me because of your fanboy butthurt. You must really love T-Mobile.
  • Again guys no reason to fan boy a carrier. Sean you are fan boyin AT&T just as bad as him with T-Mobile honestly .. So you aren't really different :)
  • I'm on straight talk actually...I do use the AT&T sim because T-Mobile has a terrible signal in my city. But I won't defend any big carrier because they all charge too much for what you get. I just happen to think T-Mobile is the worst offender and that they use wifi calling as a crutch for their terrible service. My data speeds arent much better using AT&T towers but I do have a consistent signal and have not dropped any calls.
  • But .. isn't that your area? I get 50-60 Mbps ... my "lows" are 30 Mbps all around my city ... So ... How are they offending and the "worst"? Maybe for YOUR area ... But for others it isn't .. so how is it wrong we use that?
  • I'm not saying they have good service nowhere, just that they're the weakest of the big 4 overall. The worst offender at advertising full coverage and not delivering it. Of course the signal is not awful everywhere, JUST MORE PLACES THAN THE OTHER 3. And I've never said anybody is wrong for using T-Mobile! T-Mobile is wrong for claiming a strong signal where there isn't one. Again, I know the others do it too, just not as badly.
  • They claim strong? when? please show links. They do what every carrier does ... Claim stuff and have the *"we are lying" at the bottom of the commercial --- like ALL do ...... So ....... How are the others not doing it?
  • Two things suck about WiFi calling, whether it be on T-Mobile, Sprint, Republic Wireless, and soon the other METOO carriers:
    1) It still uses your minutes up (which is a big deal for the millions on prepaid)
    2) It has to be integrated into each carriers ROM for the WiFi-to-LTE handoff to work seamlessly, and they won't share this "proprietary secret sauce" for whatever reason, which means it won't work on BYOD Nexus phones, or phones running custom ROMs like CyanogenMod. This is why I'm more excited about VOIP finally being integrated into Hangouts, than I'll ever be about CARRIER-SPECIFIC Wi-Fi calling.
  • You mean google voice? Posted via Android Central App
  • yeah - same thing
  • I don't think you can include Republic Wireless in your example because for RW they only offer phones where the wifi to cell handoff is baked into the ROM for a more seamless experience (Moto X and Moto G) and wifi calls and texts do not use up minutes on their plans.....there are no minutes on RW plans.
  • On Sprint, it doesn't use minutes and there's no WiFi-to-LTE handoff.
  • The big plus of WiFi calling is during international travel. Posted via Android Central App
  • On the one hand they cry about lack of bandwidth so we we pay through the nose for our bits, on the other hand they are in no hurry to do anything about it.
    Hmmm...
  • This was a really important feature for T-Mobile since their network is rather ... limited. On the other hand, both AT&T and Verizon have (in their minds) such great coverage that it's not necessary to rush into this area. Plus, when you add in the delays on a congested Internet, the voice quality will sometimes be affected. In these cases, the carrier will be the one taking the support calls but having no revenue from that feature to cover their costs (or maybe they will charge for use of that feature). And, since both companies offer popular plans with all the voice you want for free and change only for data usage, it's not like they have a huge incentive to offer this feature. On the other hand, in-home coverage is still spotty in many areas, so the consumer push for this feature will continue with or without carriers making a big profit on it.
  • I have Wifi calling on sprint. Nvr use ot Posted via the Android Central App
  • I love my wifi calling. My parents live out in an area where only 3mbps Internet is available and without wifi calling my phone wouldn't work. Posted via Android Central App
  • This is an interesting double-edged sword. On the one hand, any person you can get off your tower and onto someone else's network should ne to your advantage. How much different would AT&T have been during the early iPhone days if this feature was built in? On the other hand, they've just lost almost all ability to control call quality. Someone started a torrent while you were in the middle of that job interview? Not our problem. Two other people in the house watching Netflix? Not our problem. Cat keeps sleeping on the Wifi router and cutting off your signal to the back yard? You see where I'm going here. And that's before you start getting into Net Neutrality arguments about de-prioritizing someone else's packets just because you can. Yes, voice does require little bandwidth, but it also requires low latency and an uncluttered network. We had to spend a couple weeks getting our corporate VOIP system dialed in before everyone got clean calls, and that's in a highly controlled environment with wired devices. I think that trying to use this in a dorm or coffee shop would have some spectacular failures at times. That said, I still want it. :)
  • @ Jsabo - When on the crappy networks .. You should just turn the feature off. WiFi calling can be disabled so you can be on WiFi and just use cellular still for calls (I do this with T-Mobile). For those with crappy home networks ... that is 100 % their fault .... need to control it better :D.
  • I'd argue that if you're not capable of controlling your home network, you may not be savvy enough to know how to turn off Wifi calling :) For the more tech literate, there are solutions to this, but for the rest of the masses, this could be a real customer support problem. We all know that person who doesn't want to be told to turn something off simply because they were told it's a feature and they want that feature, dammit. How many people made their HD TVs stretch 4:3 SD content out to 16:9 because they didn't understand why the whole screen wasn't filled?
  • True .. but figure it this way. I am a novice user and my call quality sucks ... I call customer service ... They show me how to go to settings, wifi calling toggle off. Done. Not to bad for the CS rep :).
  • No one "needs" their carrier to support WiFi calling, AKA VOIP. There are a number of VOIP apps in the play store today. I've used GrooveIP successfully to make calls over WiFi for a couple of years now.
  • Who really cares about carrier WiFi calling?! I just updated Hangouts and placed a free call for about 10 minutes. The call quality was as good and maybe better than my ATT cell service! I was quite surprised how clear everything was. So, with this functionality in Hangouts, who gives a crap what carriers do, or don't do! Posted via mostly ghost taps on OG N7, in the Android Central App, therefore posts may not be my own.
  • They also aren't in a hurry to fix the cell tower that provides service in my area. Their TV service has been lacking too. This would be a nice and useful service, especially in hospitals and other impenetrable structures. posted from LG G2
  • I have no interest in using WIFI calling but its a welcomed addition to those who do Posted Via AT&T Galaxy Note 3
  • Since I have poor at&t signal at home, WiFi calling would be a big enough benefit that I could drop my landline...big savings.