Free Wi-Fi Calling Is Here — Is Your Router Ready?

With more and more mobile device manufacturers including Wi-Fi call capabilities in their products, and major mobile carriers competing to offer free Wi-Fi calls, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of this new functionality. What follows is a quick rundown on the benefits of Wi-Fi calling, and how you can prepare your home or office network to take advantage of this emerging technology.

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What Is Wi-Fi Calling?

New mobile devices like the iPhone 6 are offering “Wi-Fi calling,” a new function that will allow users to switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and cellular networks for their calls. For example, if your home office has a poor cell signal but a very strong Wi-Fi signal, you’ll be able to switch to the stronger signal to take calls. This is a great solution for tackling cellular “dead zones” like basements where the Wi-Fi is still strong, and gives you even more options for how you use your devices.

The Benefits of Wi-Fi Calling

In addition to providing more options for where you can take calls, this new technology also offers you flexibility for budgeting your phone plan. Since Wi-Fi calls take place over a wireless network and not your mobile carrier’s, the minutes you spend on a Wi-Fi call don’t count toward what is allotted in your plan. These new options will be welcome additions for power users who find themselves frequently exceeding the minutes allowed on their monthly mobile plans, or people who struggle to maintain a consistent cell signal at home.

Carrier Options

While device manufacturers like Samsung and Apple are forcing the issue by highlighting Wi-Fi calling in recent marketing events, Wi-Fi call support by mobile carriers is still in flux. T-Mobile and Sprint have emerged as early adopters of the technology. T-Mobile has promised to include Wi-Fi calling on all of its new phones, and Sprint is offering the service for many of its Android-compatible phones. Verizon and AT&T have discussed the service, but in all likelihood their customers will have to wait for a 2015 rollout.

Getting Set Up For Wi-Fi Calling

In order to take full advantage of this new offering, you may need to upgrade your wireless router. By upgrading to a router featuring the fastest 802.11ac technology, you can set yourself up to take advantage of crisp Wi-Fi calling as soon as your mobile carrier starts supporting the service. If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you may be eligible for a free 802.11ac router to improve your Wi-Fi call experience. If you use a different carrier, CNET has a great breakdown on the best home routers for Wi-Fi calling, as well as a list of their favorite routers of 2014.

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