Skype was a major innovation in communication last decade and led to a new market of video calling and conferencing services for talking to people anywhere in the world. However, a new innovation is set to completely swallow the Skype market, and it's called Wi-Fi calling. This new communication method is so convenient and accessible that it will soon be the new standard for national and international calls. Let's take a look at how Wi-Fi calling works, and why it's such a strong alternative for travellers, distant friend or relatives, and more.
Make Calls from More Places
Wi-Fi calling is when you take your mobile device and instead of using a carrier's network, you make a call through Wi-Fi networks. It doesn't have to be a Wi-Fi connection you own, either, as the hotspots provided by local businesses and establishments are all just as viable for delivering your signal to the intended call recipient. That's essentially all that it is, and it's deceptively simple. Best of all, Wi-Fi coverage is only expected to grow at an accelerating rate. Someday, there could be hardly any place on land where you aren't connected to the people you know.
Use Your Own Number
Skype and other video call and conferencing services mostly rely on designating a special "phone" number to your account that uses your IP number. This is called a VOIP, or voice-over-internet-protocol address. Communicating between one VOIP and another is no problem, but calling landlines or mobile phone numbers on Skype costs a fee. Users could also get their own phone number tied to their Skype account, but this is more complicated and costs a regular fee. With Wi-Fi calling, these headaches are gone. You use your own number to call other phones all over the world.
Phone carriers now offer Wi-Fi calling among their services, and this is an excellent development for users. This essentially means that on top of regular service, carriers now get to piggyback the signal of all unlocked Wi-Fi. Imagine that you are in a distant area far in the mountains of a national park, and are not getting cell service, but the ranger's lodge nearby has a Wi-Fi hotspot. Many modern devices like those from T-Mobile let you make a Wi-Fi call through your network, and that number is only growing. As long as it's public or you can get the password, every Wi-Fi signal works.
No Complicated Apps
Most people who have used Skype, especially on a phone or tablet, know that it's a major resource hog, eating up battery life and slowing down internet and general device performance. When using Skype, you must be logged in and allow it to load up. This is frustrating by itself if you don't have saved log-in credentials and forget your password. Then there's the fact that Skype's VOIP opens you up to unwanted calls. With Wi-Fi calling, you also don't have to add contacts you already know, as you do with Skype, and T-Mobile devices can automatically try to make a Wi-Fi call when the normal signal is poor or gone.
Setting It Up
In most cases Wi-Fi calling isn't automatically enabled. If you have a device, carrier, and/or plan that supports Wi-Fi calling, what you have to do is go to your settings menu. You should see the option under "Wi-Fi," "Networks," and similar internet connection terms for Android products, or under "Device" or "Phone" on Apple products. All you have to do is turn it on, and from there your phone will attempt Wi-Fi calls if and when normal service is either the lower-quality option or not available.
Wi-Fi calling is by far the simplest method for calling, including for video calls and work conferences with several people. It's the easiest alternative to regular mobile phone calls and performs exactly like them, with no complications for either the caller or receiver. Best of all, international Wi-Fi calls are considered part of an unlimited package in most cases or just counted as minutes in a limited package. It's like having millions of little signal boosters everywhere you go.