Airtel announced the free Wi-Fi calling feature for its user in December. This week similar announcement came from Jio. But what is free Wi-Fi calling, how it works, and how Jio and Airtel users get it? All explained.
- Airtel and Jio are now rolling out support for Wi-Fi calling to their users.
- Wi-Fi calling feature works along with cellular network service and allows users to make video or audio calls using Wi-Fi.
- For now, not all smartphones support Wi-Fi calling. Also the feature is not yet available in all Indian cities and regions.
If you are a Jio or Airtel users, irrespective of whether you are using prepaid or postpaid connections, you can now avail the option of Wi-Fi calling. This you must have heard in the last few weeks. Airtel started rolling out Wi-Fi calling feature to its users from December first week, while Jio has started supporting this feature from this week. The key questions then are: what is Wi-Fi calling? How do you get in on your Airtel or Jio connection? Is Wi-Fi calling free or does it cost extra? Let’s answer.
But before that some newsy bits. Airtel launched the Wi-Fi calling feature for its users in the first week of December. Initially, it was available only in Delhi NCR region. But gradually it has been rolled out in more markets. Now, as Airtel notes on its website, the Wi-Fi calling feature is available to Airtle users in: “Delhi NCR, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, UP(West), Maharashtra, Mumbai, Kolkata, UP (East), Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.”
More areas will be added by Airtel to this list as it continues the rollout of the feature.
Jio started rolling out the Wi-Fi calling feature from January 7, and its rollout process is going to be completed by January 16. Jio doesn’t exactly specify where the feature is available. But the impression that we get from Jio announcement is that the feature will be available in all regions by January 16.
With this out, let’s deal with other key details, including what is Wi-Fi calling.
— For the explanation, let’s see what Airtel and Jio are saying. Jio notes on its website, “Wi-Fi Calling is a path-breaking technology that allows customers to make and receive calls over a Wi-Fi network using their existing Jio phone number. Benefits of Wi-Fi calling are: Use the strongest network to make uninterrupted calls – whether it’s Wi-Fi or mobile network Make and receive calls with Wi-Fi.”
This is a little hyperbolic, so let’s explain. The idea and its implementation is simple. Both Jio and Airtel networks already offer VoLTE calls, where the calls are made using the data connectivity, and not through the GSM network like how it was with 2G or 3G. The Wi-Fi calling is an addition to this technology. It’s just that instead of using the LTE data, the calls will now use the Wi-Fi data, if the phone is connected to a robust Wi-Fi network.
The benefits of doing so are several. Wi-Fi connection are not only faster but are also more reliable because they are powered by wired broadband connections. This means your calls can be crisp and clear, and free of call-drops, even if the mobile or 4G connectivity is not good.
An example: Say you live in a high-rise in one of the Noida societies, and in these societies, especially apartments that are above 10 or so floors, cellular connectivity is bad. But if you have a good Wi-Fi in your home, you will be able to now make calls through your Jio or Airtel number even if the 4G signal is very weak.
Another benefit is that you save LTE data while making calls. It’s not much because calls don’t consume as much data as what you spend while streaming videos, but it is something.
— Next question then, how does Wi-Fi Calling works. Well, if you have phone that supports Wi-Fi calling — Check the List here — and if you have enabled it by going into the phone’s cellular settings, Wi-Fi calling feature will work automatically. This means when you make or receive a call, and when you are connected to a good Wi-Fi network, your call will be made using the Wi-Fi connection. You don’t have to do anything. It all happens automatically. If your Wi-Fi connection drops, the call will start using the 4G or GSM network in your phone. Again, the switch will happen automatically.
Other key details
— The Wi-Fi calling is free. You don’t have to pay Jio or Airtel anything extra to get it. In fact, it is in their favour for them to implement Wi-Fi calling because it will help them decongest their network.
— As noted earlier, to see if your phone is supported or not for Wi-Fi calling on Jio and Airtel network, check the list here.
— If your phone is not supported, and if it is a new phone from any popular smartphone brand, don’t worry too much. Chances are that support will be added soon. If your phone is old, like older than a year or more, or if it is from a relatively unknown brand, Wi-Fi calling may not be supported on your phone.ADVERTISEMENT
— If your phone supports Wi-Fi calling according to Jio and Airtel, yet it doesn’t have Wi-Fi calling option in settings, you will need to update the software in your phone.
— The STD calls on Wi-Fi calling are going to be free, just like regular calls. But ISD calls will be charged the same price that Jio or Airtel charge for them if they are made using VoLTE or regular networks, even if the calls are made using Wi-Fi. If you don’t to pay for calls made using Wi-Fi, you will have to use a regular VoIP app like WhatsApp or FaceTime.
— Both Jio and Airtel support Wi-Fi calling feature using any Wi-Fi network. earlier, the feature on the Airtel network was limited to Wi-Fi powered by Airtel Xtreme broadband. But no longer. Now you can use any Wi-Fi network.