When I woke up on Saturday morning and turned on my iPhone 5s, I got this pleasant surprise on my screen! The hawk-eyed might notice that it says “T-Mobile WiFi” in the notification bar. A couple of weeks ago, owners of t-mobile iPhones got access to this feature, but since I have an unlocked apple stock phone, I was out of luck.
The wifi calling feature is a new feature in iOS8. It enables carriers to use the existing wifi infrastructure to connect calls to and from your iPhone, just like a Skype call. It’s still not “free” calling; T-Mobile deducts the minutes from your plan, and even charges the usual steep international calling rates.
Why is this good ?
For me, this is good because I will finally have coverage in coffee shops and my apartment. As long as I have cell coverage or wifi, my calls will reliably be connected to me. I have yet to make enough wifi calls to make a final judgement, but so far the call quality has been very good.
What about OTT providers, is it good or bad news?
I think it’s mostly good. The best part is that people will get more used to making calls over data and experience the great quality that is available. OTT providers such as Rebtel, Tango, and Skype are trying to make the communication experience better in other ways than price. And since these carriers charge the same amount independent on how its delivered, the value proposition for apps that provides free calling still applies.
If you want to try WiFi calling out with T-Mobile and iOS8
UPDATE: We tested making a wifi phone call and trying to switch to the cell network. See the results here: WiFi Calling to Cell Phone Network
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