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EE is bringing WiFi Calling to the Samsung Galaxy S6. What the hell is it?

As well as sporting a huge screen and steel ‘n glass frame, Samsung Galaxy S6’s on EE will also come with something called WiFi Calling. 

This is something that EE has been working on for some time now. While its name isn’t very cryptic – it’s pretty obvious what it does, right? – it’s worth exploring in a bit of detail, not just so you know how it works, but also how it fits into EE’s (and BT’s) long term plans. 

It was back in July 2014 when EE first told us that it was working on WiFi Calling. Along with voice calls over 4G – or ‘VoLTE’ in industry – the UK’s biggest network told us that it wanted to improve coverage indoors essentially by using people’s WiFi routers as mini mobile masts. 

While this doesn’t sound exactly new – BlackBerry phones with UMA have has this since 2008, then there was things like Kineto Wireless’s Smart Wi-Fi, Virgin Media SmartCall and others – what’s key about EE WiFi Calling is that you don’t have to faff around with any apps or log in to anything. It’ll happen naturally. 

EE’s director of network services Tom Bennett told us that whenever you’re connected to WiFi, it’ll automatically kick in, providing you with a coverage boost at home. 

This is mainly of interest to folks who get decent reception when out and about but not so good reception at home or at work. If you’re stuck in a subterranean office environment or a cavernous coffee house then WiFi Calling might be just the thing you need to have calls and texts reach you. 

EE promises that WiFi Calling will be more reliable and provide higher call quality then unmanaged VoIP services like Skype. The proof of course, will be in the calling. 

Which phones have WiFi Calling? 

So which phones have it and is it ready to go? During Mobile World Congress 2015, EE announced that it was bringing WiFi Calling to the Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge phones, as well as Microsoft’s mid-range Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL phones. 

Right now, no other phones on EE have been confirmed to get WiFi Calling. We’ve asked EE if WiFi Calling will be live from launch or if it’s going to be switched on and rolled out via a software update later on, but we’ve yet to hear anything back. 

The only other thing we know for sure right now is that you’ll need a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps for this to work, so people living out in the sticks – the kind of people who could probably do with something like this – might not be able to get on board. 

It’s just as well then, that the UK Government is spending millions making sure everyone can get at least 2Mbps by 2015 2017

Before that happens, EE may have also launched 4G voice calling, which promises to make good use of that low 800MHz spectrum to deliver faster connecting and clearer calls to more people. 

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