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One place where Android and Windows Phones have the iPhone beat: Wi-Fi Calling

In most respects, I've been really happy with T-Mobile since I switched in April. I pay much less for service through T-Mobile than I did through either AT&T or Verizon, and on the odd occasion I've had to contact their customer service (only twice so far), I've been left feeling better than I did any time I ever had to contact their competitors. However, T-Mobile shares one flaw with those other services: their coverage sucks inside my house. That's why I want Wi-Fi Calling (opens in new tab). It's a feature that T-Mobile has on several of its Android and Windows Phone handsets, but it isn't available on the iPhone. At least not yet.

The case for Wi-Fi Calling

I live in an area well outside the city where cell tower coverage can be spotty. Most of the time, driving around, it's not a big deal, but when you get to the entrance to my subdivision, geography and distance from towers makes it tough for cell signals to penetrate. It's no different with any of the "big four" carriers - they all stink in my neighborhood.

When I was an AT&T customer, it got so bad that AT&T ended up sending me a "Micro-Cell" - a small cell base station that connected to my cable modem, routing calls over the Internet instead of relying on a cell tower. In my house I had four full bars of coverage. It was great. But AT&T is expensive. And their customer service has left me wanting on more than one occasion.

But that's only for AT&T. And it also requires extra hardware to attach to your cable modem. Also, my Micro-Cell was finicky. I had to reset it a few times. And doing so required me to log in to AT&T's web site. It was just a lot of work.

T-Mobile used to offer a similar product called the Cel-Fi. They've suspended that program, but Cel-Fi still sells them direct for $575.

How it works

T-Mobile has gone a different direction. Instead, they've embraced a technology called UMA, or Unlicensed Mobile Access. The principal is the same: your voice and data are transmitted over a broadband connection, creating a "virtual" GSM connection over the Internet, through your cable modem. The difference is that you're not relying on a small base station to do it. It's working through software alone.

This also helps shore up one of the single biggest issues with T-Mobile in general - the radio frequencies its towers use aren't great at permeating solid structures like buildings. At least, they're not as good as the radio frequency spectrum licensed to AT&T. So it helps them shore up coverage where you might be in a building that has a Wi-Fi hotspot you can use.

It's a nifty trick. And through T-Mobile, it's a feature the company calls "Wi-Fi Calling." If you stop into a T-Mobile store or a mall kiosk, you'll find that several of the Android phones, BlackBerrys (while they remain) and even the Nokia Windows Phones on display, all support the feature. The iPhone still doesn't. It's not just T-Mobile, either - Apple simply hasn't activated a UMA feature on the iPhone, anywhere.

UMA isn't something that's unique to T-Mobile. Orange uses it in the UK. It's used elsewhere also. It's not widespread, but it's not totally uncommon, either.

But why not FaceTime or Skype?

There is certainly no shortage of ways to initiate voice communication over IP using the iPhone. Skype is one obvious way; FaceTime Audio works too. There are other VoIP apps you can download as well.

But they're all fundamentally different than UMA, because none of them - with the exception of FaceTime, and even then, only for other FaceTime users - are linked with your handset phone number.

Wi-Fi Calling is, and it's seamless. If you're on a Wi-Fi network, you can make or receive a call. Your handset is just as useful indoors as it is outdoors. It just works.

So why doesn't Apple support UMA on the iPhone?

I'd love to know the answer to that question. To the best of my knowledge, Apple's never stated its opinion on UMA one way or the other. I'm unaware of any particular security issues that would make an iPhone running UMA susceptible to problems.

T-Mobile is the only carrier in the U.S. that supports UMA, and Apple's relationship with T-Mobile is still fairly new. And while the iPhone has made a positive contribution to T-Mobile's subscriber base, T-Mobile is still the smallest of any of the "big four," so I suspect their influence with Apple is still fairly minor.

In all likelihood, Apple hasn't added Wi-Fi Calling to the iPhone simply because it really doesn't need to in order to sell the iPhone. Apple's not in the habit of making a lot of carrier-specific concessions.

Regardless, Wi-Fi Calling is a truly useful feature, and it's something that helps the iPhone's competitors differentiate themselves. For those of us who have decided to go with T-Mobile because of cost savings, fast LTE or simply because they're not who we were doing business with before, Wi-Fi Calling would be a fantastic feature. I hope Apple allows it on the iPhone.

In the interim, I'm getting used to it being pretty quiet around the house. Though I do have to spend a lot of time responding to voicemails when I leave.

Maybe I'm being myopic by expecting Apple to make up for a shortcoming in my carrier's coverage area. But this problem isn't unique to my carrier, and I know I'm not alone. A lot of us suffer from crappy cell service either at home or at work - wouldn't it be nice to have four full bars wherever you have a decent Wi-Fi signal?

Are you a T-Mobile or Orange customer? Do you think UMA is something the iPhone should have? Or am I being unrealistic expecting my iPhone to work where I need it to? Sound off in the comments - I want to hear from you.

  • BlackBerry also supports Wi-Fi calling on T-Mobile. It is a wonderful service that T-Mobile supports and is just one of the reasons why #IChooseBlackBerry10.
  • Heinz, you really should be thinking of getting Blackberry up on its feet than posting under aliases on competing companies forums.
  • You certainly have a right to your opinion. I was merely pointing out the fact that Windows Phones and Android are not the only ones that support Wi-Fi calling. Mr. Heinz will have to answer for his actions else where.
  • I just meant my comment as a joke, I'm sorry if I offended you.
  • No offence taken, I was merely pointing out a fact.
  • In point of fact, Brian, I mentioned in the article that BlackBerry phones support the feature as well.
  • Point taken. The headline line didn't. Thank you, between your article and the comments, I think the word is getting out. Good article by the way.
  • Thanks kindly!
  • Brian, if you read the article closely they mentioned that the BB supported this function
  • Point taken. Thank you.
  • Sprint has the Airave device, but it's attached to a cable modem. So, yes, I would love to be able to switch to wi-fi whenever necessary.
  • I have the Airave and I think it's great, but I too would MUCH prefer to just be able to do wifi calling because the Airave tends to stop working occasionally… plus it's just in the way… also my Airave's GPS light keeps blinking… the manual says that it means that the GPS isn't connected (not that it can't pick up signal, but that it's just not connected at all), but it's connected… and I've tried disconnecting and reconnecting it several times… I guess I'll have to Google it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Airave sucks. I have this at home and it still drops. I have a very fast internet connection at home that I share with no one! When I use WIFI calling i.e. FaceTime it doesn't drop because my WIFI signal is strong. My Airave however does still drop my calls because it just sucks. I must admit that I am biased because I hate Sprint to the core! My service has been atrocious and it's more frustration than the cheap price is worth. I guess there is truth in "you get what you pay for!" They lie, my Airave never EVER transfers my calls to Sprint's network. I drop a call every single time I am outside the rage of the Airave.
  • So why doesn't Apple support UMA on the iPhone? Carriers.
  • In what sense? UMA doesn't cut carriers out of the equation - that's rather the whole point of it.
  • Patent concerns as noted below?
  • I don't think that's accurate.
  • Here's the full story: T-Mobile pre-installs an app from Kineto Wireless in their Android and Blackberry devices that support the Wi-Fi Calling service. This service has implementation differences to the official 3GPP UMA standard, e.g. in connection and authentication across the Wi-Fi channel. One symptom of this is T-Mobile doesn't handle automatic call handoff, unlike the official standard. T-Mobile's system is made specifically for the Kineto app and only that works with them. This is not something a manufacturer can implement without reverse engineering and potentially trampling over a bunch of patents. Samsung, Blackberry etc are all running the Kineto app installed by T-Mobile. For it to work Apple would have to let T-Mobile install Kineto into iOS, an app that changes core functionality of the phone. But they don't allow that for any carrier and are not about to make exceptions. (because every other carrier would want something too) The only other option would be for Apple to license the Kineto app and install it themselves. Such low level software would then need to be regularly updated, tested and supported by Apple across iOS updates. Think about the 5S for example, Apple would need to ask Kineto for a 64bit version well ahead of release .. giving their plans away to a third party. This is a lot to ask to support a little used featured in just one carrier.
  • I understand your point - and I can see the whole 64bit-thing being an issue. My view would be to get Apple to implement the standard, as per 3GPP and get the carriers to stick to the common implementation. I have experienced UMA on Orange in the UK and I can assure anyone questioning it, that it is a brilliant implementation and really is the future. Why more devices/carriers haven't implemented it I can only guess - and I believe it has to do with roaming charges... stay with me on this one. I took my UK Orange issues Bold 9700 to Ibiza, and I roamed onto a local carrier - expensive! I then enabled Wi-fi on the hotel hotspot and UMA joined me into the UK network and my phone disconnected the GSM radio altogether. I was essentially on Orange UK in Ibiza and my calls were as per my home tariff. Wonderful for me, but bad for roaming charges - since I was no longer roaming.
  • It would be a nice feature to have and might even let me get T-Mobile. Ok, it wouldn't really be enough for me to get T-Mobile, but it would still be a nice feature to have. Sadly where I am T-Mobile only supports 2g service in most locations. That is fine for a phone, but not for a smart phone.
  • err. did you read the article?
  • I don't know anyone that can use this feature. I know lots of people with iPhones. FaceTime Audio seems to be preferable for now.
  • UMA is specific to T-Mobile, they even own the patent on it (US20100041372) so it's likely something T-Mobile would install themselves, not something they'd just give to Apple. But as we well know, for better (no carrier crapware, fast updates) or worse (these cases) Apple doesn't allow carrier customisation.
  • This is false. UMA was ratified as a standard by the 3GPP. That's like saying LTE is specific to Verizon because they own a couple of patents on it. Also Apple most definitely allows carrier customisation, just ask anyone with an AT&T iPhone.
  • Nice try but completely wrong. T-Mobile's UMA implementation does NOT follow the 3GPP standard. T-Mobile installs a proprietary software made by Kineto Wireless called "Smart Wi-Fi client" _in all their Android/Blackberry/WP devices_ That is the basis of the Wi-Fi calling service. You can look it up. Again, Apple does not allow carriers to install their own custom software on iPhones. They do accept tweaks to the UI and settings, listed in the carrier plist file, as you suggested in the AT&T case.
  • ugh. you are digging your hole even deeper, just stop. UMA (now called GAN) is a 3GPP standard, and there is no T-Mobile specific version (why on earth do you think so many phones support it?) and it was created by over a companies (T-Mobile being only one of them). Just because T-Mobile uses a proprietary software to route cellular voice to wifi doesn't mean it's not a standard (you think http isn't a standard just because IE is proprietary software?). Here's press release from Kineto wireless (they make the software you've linked); "The company’s Smart Wi-Fi products and services, based on the 3GPP UMA/GAN standard, have been deployed by mobile operators around the world. Kineto customers and partners include HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Motorola, Orange, RIM, Rogers Wireless, SFR, Samsung, T-Mobile USA and ZTE"
  • Not sure if its strictly speaking the same tech but its very similar. O2 in the UK offer a service called Tugo which actually allows you to receive phone calls on PC, Tablet & Mobile but still using an existing number. They have failed to develop an OSX client yet and received a lot of criticism for it but otherwise it would be a truly cross-platform unified communication platform.
  • T-Mobile already said that they were planning on adding Wifi Calling through an app that would be on the iTunes App Store.
  • Thanks. Good to know. An app is what makes the most sense, rather than adding custom code to the core iOS just for one carrier which would be pain to support and update. Plus iOS7's new Multipath TCP feature - discussed here - seems almost made for this sort of thing.
  • T-Mobile iPhone owner here. I really do miss having UMA. It worked seamlessly on the legacy BlackBerry devices with a handoff from UMA to GSM during a call. The Android phones are not quite as elegant but really get the job done with my last Android powered phone (Galaxy S3). If you got out of range on any Android device, your call dropped with a warning when your WiFi signal was weak. It still was an awesome feature to have. I have been a customer of T-Mobile for roughly fourteen years now. Seeing so many bumps in the road along the way. Originally it was only the BlackBerry models they sold that had WiFi calling and with that, I carried my old Bold 9700 for many years until the Android based phones really caught on with 4G and WiFi calling. Many earlier models didn't support it I nursed that old 'Berry for a long time until I saw the Galaxy S2 and paid full cash price for that phone. The nice modern features I was missing with the ability to receive calls indoors was a wonderful thing. I eventually upgraded to the Galaxy S3 which was near the simplicity of the iPhone and I had a unlocked 32GB iPhone 4S. I loved using the old 4S on my carrier of choice but EDGE data speeds just killed the fun. I went back to my Galaxy S3 which I really liked until my 32GB microSD card somehow got destroyed by it and I never used that Samsung again since I had no trust in it. Other than my 4S, I also had a Galaxy Nexus which did connect to the faster network on T-Mobile but it (like the iPhone) lacked WiFi calling. Fast forward to today, I'm a happy iPhone 5 owner which while I still lack WiFi calling, the smaller town I live in got a couple new towers which boosted my indoor signal from GPRS to a steady 4G. So while I don't have WiFi calling, I have my phone I like and speeds outside that nearly rival the speed of my cable modem from Xfinity/Comcast. So while I did have some rough road while T-Mobile still works on updating their network, it all turned out well in the end. In summary, happy iPhone owner on T-Mobile with 3 out of 5 signal dots (of 4G indoors) on iOS 7. Good things come to those who wait after all. :-)
  • I will say that BB did have the Wifi/cell hand off down really well. I never had it for UMA but they handled it well on my AT&T for data
  • I'll switch to T-Mobile if the iPhone ever gets UMA support. It seems like such a great feature to me. I have a Verizon microcell in my house, but even with it, call quality still sucks.
  • One of the features I like with Sprint is having Google Voice. My cell number and Google Voice number are the same. I can make wifi calls on my iPhone or my Mac. When my iPhone rings my computer rings.
  • Google Voice is a freakin' godsend, all hail GV!!!! One of the few google services I still use.
  • Closing soon.
  • Wifi calling is already on IOS7-Facetime voice call? Am I wrong?
  • Yep, you're wrong. Wifi Calling is fundamentally different - it's a GSM call that uses a virtual connection to your cell provider's network through your broadband Internet connection, so you can make and receive calls and send and receive data packets just as you would over a cell phone tower, just over Wi-Fi instead. The only person who can "call" my number with FaceTime is another FaceTime user. Completely different.
  • Only to other FaceTime / iPhone users.. WiFi calling in true form allows you to call any phone number, be it an iphone, GS4, HTC or land line.. doesn't care.
  • T-Mobile had terrible signal inside my house as well with my iPhone, i called tech support and they mailed me a free range extender, a little router looking box that you plug in next to a window. just needs power no internet connection required, also has an extra box that you can plug into a basement so you can have better service there as well. i had 1-2 bars upstairs and no service down, after i plugged in there "Range Extender" i had full service for calls all over my house. I did not request this i just called to complain about the service in my house and they offered it right away. This was about 2 months ago incase anyone thinks they discontinued this.
  • I've had T-mobile HTC One S and Galaxy S II, both had WiFi calling. It was a great backup.. in stores (Lowes/HomeDepot) or other locations similar that have WiFi it enabled me to get cell service where none of the others allowed it.. My suggestion? Send feedback to Apple about your wonderful experience with the feature. They may well look into offering there own version of it. I suspect they don't right now because each carrier might have their own version and there is no standard. They might be more on-board if there were a 'hook/api' they could develop and just let t-mobile and others hook into it with an App that users can download from the App store? Don't know.
  • Peter, If you get poor int signal in your house, T-Mobile offers for free a signal booster. It is wireless and comes in two parts. One part you place in the highest point of your house facing the strongest T-Mobile signal, the other part keep it where you are most of the time, maybe your office etc. It works fantastic. When I saw this thing they sent me it looked like a freaken toy. It works absolutely fantastic. I went on a website called 4G repeater store and the same exact booster sold for almost $600.00. The only thing is you must tell them you live in a signal family house or they won't send you one. Not sure why but I have one half on my 3rd floor in a window and the other part on the 1st floor in my office. It gives all bars all the time all over my house. Call them and ask to speak to the Loyalty Dept. Make sure you tell them you live in a single family house, they will ask you.
    Good Luck,
  • A signal booster would be a great option, but the problem is that T-Mobile stopped that program in mid-June. I've spoken at length with their customer service people about it, and they tell me that even if I were to qualify for one (I'm a pay as you go customer, not a "post-paid" customer), they couldn't send me one anyway.
  • Unfortunately I think many have missed the point of the article. Its not that Peter wants a microcell, its that other T-Mobile customers are able to utilise what is a pretty nifty feature on their handsets without additional hardware. This feature would be useful no matter where you are as long as you have a wifi signal so if visiting relatives where the strength is rubbish, basically the wifi & internet takes care of the transmission of the voice traffic. Yes its noble T-Mobile offer the cells to those with problems but if the iPhone natively supported the function, they would save a ton of cash in the process.
  • It is not a microcell, does not use your home wifi system. It is a complete signal booster. Does not use any of your home computer of wifi system to work. As I said it is a signal booster that will help him situation. I know he was talking about wifi calling but I thought this would be something he could use if he had poor interior signal issue on T-Mobile. This is a signal booster and works fantastic. I get 5 bars all the time. Best part it also boosts your data signal big time. It is a must have for a T-Mobile customer with weak signal issues inside their house.
    PS I also have several top of the line Android phones with wifi calling. Don't need or use them with a signal booster. Works fantastic. My area has since received LTE and the refarmed 1900 radio towers. Try the signal booster you will be shocked.
  • ++ It's called a Cel-Fi signal booster, and yes Peter should get one. The only downside is that it doesn't support LTE.
  • I dumped both T-Mobile and HTC over Wi-Fi Calling on my HTC One S not long after I bought my house. T-Mo was fine without Wi-Fi calling in my old apartment building but not here. Wi-Fi Calling would be running, and it claimed to be functioning in the notification area, but incoming calls and texts almost never worked. I could call out over wifi and even though people I talked to sounded considerably more robotic, it worked great. Texting out was OK too (just by calling and texting people in the house who had other providers). But incoming calls went to voicemail and incoming texts would be delayed by 10-15 minutes. I endured it for about 6 weeks before I finally said "enough of this garbage" and got my iPhone on (doesn't matter which carrier, honestly, but another carrier who had better service in my area than T-Mobile - in this case, Verizon). It wasn't just my wifi setup, either, which is an ASUS router to a Comcast cable modem. It happened at other peoples' houses when my phone would latch onto wifi and just automatically enable Wi-Fi Calling. From what I could tell later on from continuing to read about the issue later, the problem was with the HTC One S and I could have kept T-Mobile if I'd gotten a Samsung or a Win8 phone, but I figured if I wanted an iPhone I better get good coverage to go along with it specifically because the iPhone doesn't support wifi calling.
  • Will VoLTE function similarly to UMA, or different approach? Perhaps that's why iPhone is holding off, because these carriers keep saying VoLTE is coming (even though it is taking them a while to launch).
  • VoLTE won't fix a poor signal problem, which is what I have. Voice quality on T-Mo is fine, btw - they give voice more signal bandwidth on their network than AT&T does, and the quality shows.
  • Ah, sorry should have clarified. Once VoLTE is launched, then we will be able to make calls over Wi-Fi too, correct?
  • Still no. That's entirely dependent on how the carriers want to handle it. You're right in thinking that VoLTE changes voice into data packets, but there's a difference between that and allowing the phone to make calls over an Internet connection instead of the carrier's towers.
  • VoLTE could go over Wi-Fi since it's IP based and actually uses the same protocols as T-Mobile uses for Wi-Fi calling. It's just the small (but often the most time consuming) matter of having the right software stack on both sides to supports this. An app will probably end up being the easiest and fastest solution
  • Does WIFI calling offer better sound quality?
  • On the HTC One S I had, I thought it actually sounded worse. Not unusable but just not nearly as good.
  • I've only used wifi calling on my Samsung Galaxy Note (first edition, not the Note II) and the wifi calls have noticeably better sound fidelity than wireless calls from the tower.
  • I have two words for you: Google Voice. Works over Wi-Fi. Works with all phones, regardless of carrier. Puts you in control, not your carrier, not your phone maker. And it's free for calls in the U.S. (and Canada, I think).
  • Wish we could have this too!
  • OMG!!!! I am going to throw my iPhone in the trash and get either a Windows Phone, Droid, or maybe BlackBerry!!!!........ NOT!!!!!!!!! Could care less about Wi-Fi calling...Sorry!
  • I would like to have wifi calling. I have poor service at home. I conduct a lot of personal business at home, which necessitates calling banks, credit card companies, etc. and I tend to use my house phone, but I would prefer to use my iPhone. Thank you for the article. Hopefully the feature will be added soon. Sent from the iMore App
  • So with iOS 7, and wifi; FaceTime now supports "Audio Only" FaceTime calls. Essentially wifi calling. Of course the only caveat remains that you be calling another iOS or mac user. I feel it is at least one step further into the right direction of a full wifi-calling environment.
  • I'm on Verizon and I would still love to have this feature available. In Washington state VZW's coverage is very good for the most part. But there are still those times when you're in a building that creates a dead spot. Furthermore, this feature would topple international roaming costs. When I go up to Vancouver & Victoria B.C. most of the places i've gone to have had Wifi, would be great to be able to make and receive regular phone calls without paying more or needed to get a SIM. Peter, do you know if they block IP's from outside countries in order to prevent free international roaming?
  • During SPRINT LTE tower upgrades in my area in July, my coverage became so bad in my home and in my area in general, that Sprint sent me an AIRAVE and provided me with free AIRAVE service. I now have no trouble getting a decent signal in my home and the coverage in my area has gotten better. When I heard that iOS 7 had Facetime Audio calling, I thought that "WiFi Calling" had finally come to the iPhone, until I tried to call someone who doesn't have an iPhone and couldn't complete that call. What Apple should do is, with a software update, update Facetime so that Facetime Audio allows WiFi calling to any phone number, not just iPhones. That would be incredibly useful and not carrier dependent.
  • Agree but I can understand a but why they don't. As a former android user who used wifi calling, I found the experience to be just ok. Let me give you an example. You go to Starbucks. The wifi auto connects. You get an incoming call. But wifi is congested. Call doesn't come through. Goes to voicemail. Old uma used to switch to the cell radio on blackberries. Like my beloved 8320. This wifi calling is kind of unreliable. It's weird because they used to pull it off 5 years ago with inferior tech. So unless you have fios I'd say chances are it may be a bad experience. And Apple doesn't go for bad experiences. I would love to see it still so we could have the option. But except at home I would switch it off Sent from the iMore App
  • Viber uses your cell number to connect... does it not?
  • I have unlimited minutes. Why would I need wi-fi calling? So I can brag about it and never use it?
  • Apple is pro-consumer.
    I believe Apple thinks the whole concept of "voice minutes" is anti-consumer, and their answer to that is FaceTime Audio. I think they will eventually implement a bridge that lets you use FaceTime Audio to call *any* phone, similar to how iMessage will SMS people who don't use iPhones. You won't need to know if they have FaceTime or not, you'll just need their phone number. If they have FaceTime, it'll do a free FaceTime Audio call. If they don't, it'll connect you to them over the phone network using Apple's phone bridge. This will cost them a lot to implement, but it'll be fantastic for users, effectively making all voice calls free for people with iPhones. It'd be a great reason to switch to iPhone, and difficult for other manufacturers to compete with.
  • We'll see. Apple is currently getting dragged through patent hell over FaceTime thanks to a patent troll called VirnetX. Assuming the case is ever settled and Apple is able to, I think we'll see FaceTime continue to be enhanced and augmented.
  • Apple is not pro consumer!! Look at their prices on everything from an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad mini to a MacBook! I have a Acatel One Touch Fierce from metro pcs, the phone cost $30 with new activation so I walked out of best buy with a phone just as fast as an iPhone 5, the pictures look as good maybe better and videos are HD. BTW metro pcs and T-Mobile together, sharing data area, cell towers and selling over half of the same phones. Like my phone is a huge seller at T-Mobile. But back to your statement that Apple is "pro consumer" the full price of the 5 is still well over $500.00 shit the 4 is over $400. Then you have android devices that are (full price we're talking) $749.99 like the note 3 down to my phone which was $30 100 full price. And if you wanna say the note is a Samsung and mine isn't, then I'll tell you there's a Samsung galaxy and then a name I can't remember at metro for $49.99 with 5mp camera with flash a front facing camera hd camcorder and the latest version of the android os. So no Apple is not pro consumer!! The are over priced hipsters driven image makers that's it. You wouldn't catch me dead waiting in line with tight jeans, unshaven face, thick black rimmed glasses, with a halfway unbuttoned flannel shirt on holding a long board and one strapping a canvas bag with some odd hat and a bandana hanging out of a pocket talking about rumours of what "the new one`s going to have on it. And I have had 3 did iPhones but my $50 Bill each month for unlimited everything mind you. Let's put it this way I'm paying $68 less a month. Nuff said
  • I had a blackberry on tmobile some like 4 years back and UMA was the best thing ever with my crappy home signal. it just works. I'm surprised it's not more of a standard.
  • In my area AT&T is the major GSM carrier. T-Mobile has a very minor presence where we live (about 80 miles southwest of Chicago) so at times even a mobile phone signal can be hard to come by--and forget data connection--it's "Edge" if you can get data at all.
    Somewhere in our distress we worked to find workarounds for making and receiving calls, texts, and data with weak coverage in this eastern side of suburban-to-rural LaSalle County Illinois, and we found what T-Mobile advertises as wi-fi calling. It's easy to activate, and makes up significantly for the lack of coverage here in our town of 20k or so.
    But the best benefits are these: (1) The quality of calls is improved, since it's essentially a "voip" call, and (2) thus far (Oct. 2013) T-Mobile doesn't charge for calls made or received via wi-fi. Even when we didn't have T-Mobile we weren't heavy phone/text users, but this has allowed us to make longer calls with our son in the military wherever he is--here in the US or on deployments. It would be my guess that Apple's apparent reluctance to add this feature is a residual tendency to defer to the wireless carrier (which originally was AT&T only). Apple's favoring the carrier by avoiding the addition of features that might reduce billable wireless minutes/data.
    In the case of T-Mobile--with many fewer towers and far less geographic coverage--wi-fi calling seems to have become something of a competitive equalizer in the marketplace. In the most populous areas T-Mobile's signal works fine for phone/text/data, while in areas with somewhat less population and far fewer voice/data towers it offers the advantage of wi-fi calling.
  • I really need wifi calling for my iphone and i have used it before on an andriod and it is the best!
  • Thanks for the interesting thread guys. I live in central London UK where the signal is brilliant. However, I live on a static steel hulled boat with planes flying directly above on the approach to London airport (they're quite high but strangely US flights affect me worst...anti missile defences?) which screens out the signal. Vodafone supplied me with a free signal booster box which links to my broadband. It works v well for outgoing calls/text plus the voice quality is good; but it aint so hot for incoming calls and I hate voicemail. Reading thru all your info I'm left with many questions (please try not to scramble all the answers or Ill get lost...... like many that are reading here, Im a novice):
    1/Some people have written that they have 2 such boxes.....I only have one. Am I missing something?
    2/ I tried talking to a Voda techie and my eyes glazed over. I wanted to know how this box worked fundamentally......Id assumed the signal from my Iphone 3gs ios6, transmitted to the box by wifi, and it sent my voice down the broadband till it got to their HQ where it was broadcast over the airwaves. Apparently not. I think he said the box acts as a local beacon, but he said nothing about sticking it as high as possible. Presently its stuffed in a cupboard behind the steel hull.
    3/ As said it works well for outgoing, but incoming leaves a lot to be desired. Why the one way traffic? Is UMA also a one way street? 4/ Ive tried skype but the voice quality is often aweful and theres a lot of breakup/noise. Doesn't all wifi calling suffer the same problem? Is UM different? 5/ Is wifi calling via UMA from a cell phone free? I never trust free! 6/ Couldn't you just keep an old Blackbury for use at home and your Iphone for out and about? 7/ Can 2 phones have the same number or must I switch sims or divert incoming calls from one to the other? 8/ All the marketing here is about the wonders of 3g and 4g. I hardly use the internet via my phone so thats useless to me. As I understand it, neither 3 or 4g is used for voice/texting. Is that true? 9/ When i look on my phone, I sometimes have 1 bar then sometimes 5 bars. Why the change from a set of fixed beacons? 10/ Do the bars measure 2, 3 or 4g signal or is it an average? Any answers would be most welcome Rgs Alan
  • PS
    11/ While at home, my texts and browsing is sent via my wifi for free. Surely its not impossible to send voice by the same means....its just data packets. I assume Voda block that or they wouldnt make any money. But surely its theoretically possible using an Iphone.
  • In the early days of the iPhone, you'll recall that Apple resisted anything that might undercut AT&T's airtime revenue. As I recall, Google Voice was initially rejected. But now with many cell service plans including unlimited talk and texting, that issue has largely gone away. I really wish Apple would support Wi-Fi calling, as I'd have yet another reason to switch to T-Mobile (cell service from all carriers is spotty in my area).
  • Apple suggests that we send our requests to add UMA calling for the iPhone 5 to apple (The spam blocker won't let me past the web address but you can use the basic apple address forward slash feedback.) I will do so tonight and hope that lots of other people do so too.
  • I have a samsung galaxy s 3 and i havent renovated my contract because im waiting to se if wifi calling will be available on the iphone 5s is it possible? I want to know because if its not possible i will get the samsung galaxy s4
  • Too bad Verizon doesn't allow WiFi calling....
  • I have had to use Iridium sat phones in the past, but now Iridium has a nifty new gadget called the "Iridium Go". It uses the satellite feed to set up a wifi-hot spot. So your cell is all you need to talk. Non- voice over WiFI phones just got a LOT more cumbersome in my opinion.
  • When I had that problem with my iPhone I
    Downloaded the app to my internet/phone/cable provider and there was an option to have the calls from my cell phone or (because of the app) the calls forwarded to my cell from my landline , mostly I would have the calls coming into my cell forwarded to my landline and simply get the calls that way. But I'm pretty sure I would have been able to forward the calls to my landline without the app, the app just aloud me to get the calls coming into my house forwarded to my cell. So a simple way of putting it would be look for the call forward setting and set it up accordingly, just remember to take it off before leaving the house! :-) hopefully that was helpful, have a good day sir.
  • O man. This conversation just happened. I came into work today (in the basement of a large building), and wireless signal for any service provider is weak at best. After entering the wireless password a notification about using the phone over our Wireless network appeared. Success! I've beaten the concrete walls at last! We have an AT&T booster that works with 5 numbers, but only 1 person who travels uses it, and the Verizon booster hasn't worked since day one at all. Now here I sit with out a booster, no extra step, and bam! I'm in the game. In my excitement I let our manager know, and she was really interested in doing the same, however; she is on Verizon who also doesn't offer this (at least for FREE) at this time. I'm sure everyone will catch up soon tho. Only a matter of time.
  • This should be available for all phones in all carriers! Wi-Fi calls also will work if you are out of the country, therefore eliminating the need for roaming! Huge savings here, specially for international business.