AT&T was officially granted an FCC waiver this week to enable Wi-Fi calling for its customers with supported devices like iPhones running iOS 9. Wi-Fi Calling first appeared during the iOS 9 beta period and remained functional for those who enabled it previously, but AT&T stopped sign-ups for the feature once iOS 9 was publicly released due to requirements set by the Federal Communications Commission.
While AT&T has officially turned on Wi-Fi calling for its subscribers, the carrier is doubling down on its position that rivals T-Mobile and Sprint have deployed and marketed Wi-Fi calling features for a while without proper FCC approval. At issue with the FCC is how Wi-Fi calling lacks support for teletypewriter (TTY) devices. And although AT&T has been cleared to turn on Wi-Fi calling without meeting that requirement, it wants in FCC investigation into its competitors’ behavior.
AT&T’s Senior Executive VP of External and Legislative Affairs, Jim Cicconi, thanked the FCC in approving AT&T’s request for a waiver, but sharply targeted T-Mobile and Sprint for what he described as ignoring FCC rules.
Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation.
Carrier politics aside, iPhone users on AT&T with iOS 9 can enable Wi-Fi calling by going to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling and turning it on then following the setup process. Note that Wi-Fi calling requires an up-to-date emergency address to be on file when setting it up.
Wi-Fi calling can benefit users with cellular signal strength but good Wi-Fi connections when making phone calls and sending messages over the network.