Earlier today we pointed out that Apple quietly announced WiFi calling would arrive in iOS 8 despite not actually talking about the feature on stage. Now, T-Mobile has confirmed that it will soon enable the experience for iPhone users on its network when iOS 8 is released later this year:

With the upcoming update, more than 90 percent of all T-Mobile smartphones will feature Wi-Fi Calling, adding to the 17 million Wi-Fi Calling-enabled customer devices on T-Mobile’s network and more than 5 million customers using Wi-Fi Calling during any given month… Now — with the news coming out of Apple’s keynote today that Wi-Fi Calling will be enabled with iOS 8 – I’m excited to welcome our iPhone customers to the convenience and ease of T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling as well.

With WiFi calling, users can make and receive calls as well as send messages through a WiFi connection rather than using their voice or data plan. That allows users to avoid unnecessary service charges and cut bill costs, extends coverage to areas without traditional network coverage, and also allows users to use their regular phone number.

Up until now, the feature has been reserved for select Android and Windows devices on T-Mobile since the carrier first launched the feature back in 2007. Sprint also has a WiFi calling feature, but AT&T and Verizon have yet to roll out support for similar technology. Several carriers abroad have rolled out similar WiFi calling capability for users.

As noted by T-Mobile in its announcement, the feature doesn’t require an app or any activation: “Just connect to any available Wi-Fi network, check that Wi-Fi Calling is turned on on your capable smartphone, and make a call (or send a text, email, etc.) as you normally would. That’s it.” That means iPhone users should be able to take advantage right away once Apple releases iOS 8.

Welcome to Wi-Fi Calling!

June 2, 2014

Mike Sievert, Chief Marketing Officer

Like HD Voice, Voice-over LTE (VoLTE) and a host of other pioneering wireless innovations, T-Mobile has also long led the way with Wi-Fi Calling. Back in 2007, we were the very first US wireless provider to enable Wi-Fi Calling nationwide on our Android™-powered and Windows smartphones.

Now — with the news coming out of Apple’s keynote today that Wi-Fi Calling will be enabled with iOS 8 – I’m excited to welcome our iPhone customers to the convenience and ease of T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling as well.

When that happens, over 90 percent of all T-Mobile smartphones will feature Wi-Fi Calling.

Already today, T-Mobile provides Wi-Fi Calling capabilities to far more customers than any other US wireless provider. Already, there are 17 million Wi-Fi Calling-enabled customer devices on our network. Already, nearly 5 million customers use Wi-Fi Calling during any given month. And, these numbers are growing by the day.

Since we launched Wi-Fi Calling over seven years ago, our engineers have continued to deliver quality and user experience enhancements. As a result, our service is one of the most advanced natively-integrated Wi-Fi Calling products in the U.S. No other provider has the deep technical knowledge or the close partnerships with device manufacturers to deliver the Wi-Fi call quality wireless consumers have come to expect from the Un-carrier.

One of the best things about T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling is that it’s so simple to use. You don’t need to activate anything or download a special app. Just connect to any available Wi-Fi network, check that Wi-Fi Calling is turned on on your capable smartphone, and make a call (or send a text, email, etc.) as you normally would. That’s it.

 

And, like I said, we’ve been innovating on behalf of wireless customers in a bunch of other exciting ways as well.

 

In January 2013, we were the first U.S. carrier to roll out nationwide HD Voice more than a year ahead of the competition, marking a big step forward in dramatically enhancing in-call audio performance on many of the latest smartphones. With HD Voice, you hear a far more true-to-life voice quality that’s much fuller and more natural-sounding – and with a lot less background noise from street traffic, wind or crowd noise.

T-Mobile currently carries over 30 HD Voice-capable devices and – to date – T-Mobile customers have made over 5 billion HD Voice calls and have enjoyed over 12 billion minutes of HD Voice since launch. No one else comes close.

We also recently launched Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in Seattle, a big, important step toward a host of rich communication services and additional innovations around Wi-Fi Calling that we’re looking to deliver to our customers over the coming months.

This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for what’s to come!

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42 Responses to “T-Mobile confirms WiFi calling arriving for iPhone users with iOS 8”

  1. What if I’m connected at a coffee shop or hotel, and the wifi is too slow to support decent voice? Will it drop back to cell if available? Or will I just get terrible-quality calls?

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  2. WiFi calling = FaceTime Audio

    No?

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  3. Jassi Sikand says:

    How is this useful? This is a genuine question

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    • If you have no telephone bars but have WIFI/Internet, the phone call will go thru.. nothing to do with iMessage/Facetime.. the recipient can be a lan line or a NON apple / iMessage user.. hope this helps

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    • 1) If you don’t have unlimited talk.
      2) You’re in an area where you don’t get good cell reception but you have wifi.

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    • g0bez says:

      My sister’s house has terrible cell coverage. And by terrible, I mean the moment I step in the door I drop to 1 bar, and then 2 feet in from any wall and I have no signal. They have fast internet there, so with this feature I can easily remain on WiFi and still use my phone.

      There are several locations (for me) where this is the case.

      For more general use (beyond my immediate world), I can imagine this will be incredibly useful for international customers who have access to wifi but not an international SIM, or just general travel where coverage may be spotty. I find that it is easier for me to get to sniff out a wifi hotspot much easier than I can hit cell coverage when it is spotty.

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    • Jassi Sikand says:

      Thanks! All these replies do help. I feel like if Apple had actually emphasized this feature, then there’d be a lot more people who understood the implications of this. Especially travelers who might not have access to/don’t want to get an international SIM card or their phone is locked. Thanks again!

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      • g0bez says:

        I had the same thought. My only guess is that while the wider Apple audience gets a taste of what is in store (I have my own theories on this), the *actual* point of this Developers Conference is, well, developers. In that light I think it does make more sense to down-play some of these other consumer-tier features in favor of the dev-tier features.

        I personally believe that Apple uses the public reaction to these various pseudo-announcements to help identify what features to drive home when the actual release of their products hits the market. Sure we had a press release, etc. and the cat is running free from the bag. But you know that when the new iDevices are released in the coming months we’ll get the best of the best touted.

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    • telecastle says:

      You are on an overseas trip. You can now make and receive calls via Wi-Fi as though you were in your home country, and you will incur no charge. Of course, those of us who know what VoIP is and how to set it up have been using this feature for 6 years now on the iPhone with a third-party app and a third-party service. However, that solution required a different phone number than the number assigned to your mobile phone. The feature described in this article would allow one to use his/her phone number in this case – not another number registered by a SIP app running on your iPhone (or iPad). This same feature, by the way, may be able to work with the “proximity” feature they announced today to be able to make calls over Wi-Fi from your iPad or Mac. Nothing prevents apple from allowing this since the tech is already there, but whether or not they will enable Wi-Fi calling on the iPad and Mac is another question.

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    • In the UK, this could help when calling certain phone numbers that start with 0800 which are free on landline but very expensive on your mobile. It would mean using wifi would make the call free again :)

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    • As was stated this is huge from a consumer standpoint in that I can now use my phone at home, and not have missed calls or dropped calls.

      From T-Mobiles point of view, this is a huge expense saver. Voice connections tax cellular networks more than text or data, but have been made unlimited due to popular demand. By offloading some of that load to wifi networks, T-Mobile is able to free up some of it’s network, and lower it’s operating expense.

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  4. vmax says:

    In your article it mention cost cutting a benefit of wifi calling. That is not true. With T-Mobile, your wifi calling counts towards your minutes limit. Although most plans now have unlimited minutes, but if you are on limited minutes plan, wifi calling won’t save any cost.

    Its benefit is mainly for places where there is no/poor cellular coverage. For example, your home, your basement etc.

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  5. Ali Mnm says:

    A question now, Will it work in airplane mode?

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  6. vkd108 says:

    Wi-fi calling – the fast way to become brain dead, or at least develop a tumour in there.

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    • While your concern may be genuine, it is misplaced. Wifi and cellular networks radiate signal, so weather you use your phone or not, you are always being subjected to radio signals. Do these signals increase our risk of cancer? Maybe. Do these devices enhance our lives? Maybe. My point is simply that the signals are there weather you use a phone or not.

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      • vkd108 says:

        If you do some quick research on the internet you’ll find that the EMF signal given off by wifi or cellular apparatus is greater the closer you are to it. So, putting a phone against your head is an excellent way of intensifying electrical EMF waves transmitted into your brain – the prime cause of cerebral tumours.

        WiFi apparatus works on a similar basis; a wifi modem in your work area for example is constantly sending out EMF waves. These are absorbed by the soft tissue of your body and affect the functioning of your vital organs and are cancer causing, amongst other myriad dangers. So, a laptop computer with an active WiFi modem held in close proximity to your genitals for prolonged and repeated periods, for example, is a good way to generate testicular cancer, infertility and sexual dysfunction (impotence). Ditto a 30m reach wifi modem on your desk at chest height will affect your heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, thyroid, thymus, brain, etc.

        BTW It is the word ‘whether’ that I believe you were looking for, as ‘weather’ is something completely different and not valid in the applied context.

        Thanks.

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      • Air Burt says:

        Then why don’t we all have cancer already? Seriously, these “concerns” are retarded. Your phone is NOT going to give you cancer! Please take off the tin foil and join the real world!

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  7. WiFi calling is going to be a real game changer in the MDU/ MTU industry. In discussions revolving around the impact of WiFi calling, the iOS 8 announcement and subsequent T-Mobile announcement to support WiFi calling, the MDU/ MTU industry gets left out of the discussion. The fact is the biggest problem facing building owners and managers today is the problem of poor indoor cellular coverage. These building owners represent a large segment of the U.S. population – 120+ million people. The carriers are focused completely on geographic coverage, not improving the poor coverage that exists inside large buildings.

    Building owners are left with a few options: 1) spend a lot of money to install a cellular booster system or DAS system in their building 2) ignore the problem and lose residents and tenants 3) deploy a secure, managed WiFi network property-wide so that callers can use their devices and available WiFi calling apps to have indoor coverage. The problem with the third option is that seamless WiFi calling, while available from T-Mobile on a few select devices and via downloadable apps like Skype, has not yet seen the device/ carrier support it needs to become commonplace. We are thrilled that more devices are being built with seamless WiFi calling and now, with the iOS 8 update, we are hoping that market demand will force the major carriers (i.e. Verizon and AT&T) to allow for WiFi calling on the iPhone and Android. Obviously the reason we see the iPhone update as being such a big deal is that a) Apple typically dictates the market and b) it is hard to imagine the dedicated Apple crowd walking around with a device that does not allow for use of all features.

    Support for WiFi calling from all major carriers including Verizon and AT&T will allow millions of Americans who currently do not receive adequate cellular coverage access to calling that would allow them to truly rely on their smartphone as their primary method of communication. The major carriers need to support this feature.

    –Spot On Networks http://www.spotonnetworks.com

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  8. John C. Stam says:

    I wonder how seamless the handoff will be going from Wifi to cellular while on a call.

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  9. This doesn’t mean I’ll have to buy a newer iPhone, does it? I have the 5s. So when I update my operating system to iOS 8, I’ll have wifi calling?

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    • Air Burt says:

      Correct, you will be fine to use Wi-Fi Calling once you update to iOS 8. However, your carrier also has to support it. Only T-Mobile and Sprint in the US currently support Wi-Fi Calling.

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    • Air Burt says:

      Except AT&T doesn’t have ANY Wi-Fi Calling right now. T-Mobile is still the only one who will support it out of the gate (though Sprint said they would too and they do have Wi-Fi Calling already).

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  10. Note that you must have a valid e911 address on file, and you also have to turn this on.

    Go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calls and turn on.
    You can set your e911 address from the same screen by clicking on “Update Emergency Address”.

    When enabled, you will see “T-Mobile Wi-Fi” for the carrier (provided T-Mobile is your carrier, obviously).

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  11. Patryk Dus says:

    Is it just me, or it’s nowhere to be found on iPhone five? Wasn’t it there in the beta?

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