T-Mobile announces 'Wi-Fi Unleashed,' promises Wi-Fi calling on all new handsets

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2014
At a special media event on Wednesday, T-Mobile announced its latest "Un-carrier" initiative in "Wi-Fi Unleashed," which has the company promising Wi-Fi call and text support with every new phone sold.




T-Mobile CEO John Legere told those in attendance that all new smartphones sold on the carrier's network, including Apple's upcoming iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, will be able to handle texting and calling over Wi-Fi networks.

As described by Apple CEO Tim Cook during Tuesday's iPhone 6 debut, Wi-Fi calling allows users to set up and place calls over a Wi-Fi network rather than connecting with a cellular radio tower. The higher bandwidth grants more headroom for so-called "HD audio" voice throughput and lowers network congestion in the area.

Further, the tech allows handsets to hop from one network to another. For example, a subscriber can start a call on Wi-Fi at home, then step outside where the call will continue seamlessly on T-Mobile's cellular network.

In addition to ensuring all new phones come with Wi-Fi calling capability, T-Mobile is introducing a dedicated hotspot device called the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot. The hardware includes support for 802.11ac, prioritizes voice calling for higher definition audio and can work as a regular Internet router.

T-Mobile's announcement comes one day after Cook revealed T-Mobile as the only wireless operator in the U.S. to support Wi-Fi calling for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In June, Legere confirmed that the carrier's network would support iOS 8's Wi-Fi calling feature.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    2oh12oh1 Posts: 503member
    Can someone explain this to me? I'm a bit confused. If I had T-Mobile... Are they saying I could make a call on my wifi internet, which is Comcast, using my T-Mobile number? And the call would switch over to T-Mobile if I walked out of reach of my wifi? Does that mean using no data and no minutes so long as the call is using wifi?

    I wish I could get a data-only plan. I don't need minutes. I just need data for when I'm not on wifi. As for calls... I'd happily let 'em go to voicemail when I don't have wifi.
  • Reply 2 of 21
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,670member
    Surely the carriers are out of the loop when Wifi is on?

    My carrier here does advertise "unlimited wifi" when getting a package. That's kind of them but not really for them to say.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 2oh1 View Post



    Can someone explain this to me? I'm a bit confused. If I had T-Mobile... Are they saying I could make a call on my wifi internet, which is Comcast, using my T-Mobile number? And the call would switch over to T-Mobile if I walked out of reach of my wifi? Does that mean using no data and no minutes so long as the call is using wifi?



    I wish I could get a data-only plan. I don't need minutes. I just need data for when I'm not on wifi. As for calls... I'd happily let 'em go to voicemail when I don't have wifi.

    Right there with ya, buddy.

  • Reply 4 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 2oh1 View Post



    Can someone explain this to me? I'm a bit confused. If I had T-Mobile... Are they saying I could make a call on my wifi internet, which is Comcast, using my T-Mobile number? And the call would switch over to T-Mobile if I walked out of reach of my wifi? Does that mean using no data and no minutes so long as the call is using wifi?

     

    What you describe is accurate: the phone uses Wifi when near an AP that you are connected to, and can transition to a cell tower when you no longer are within range of the AP. The Wifi calling does still use your calling minutes though, but no data.

     

    Currently it depends on software that is embedded in the OS of T-Mobile phones. I had a HTC One with T-Mobile's Android version on it and it worked with the Wifi calling. Once moving to stock Android on a Nexus 5, Wifi calling is no longer possible. I'm not sure how they will handle this in the future but it is currently deep in the system and not just some app you can download. 

  • Reply 5 of 21
    All of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans are unlimited text and calling, so there are no minutes to be eaten up. It’s unlimited already, you're simply making the call via Wi-Fi instead of the T-Mobile network, which gives you the ability to make calls in far more places where cell signal is poor.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 2oh1 View Post



    Can someone explain this to me? I'm a bit confused. If I had T-Mobile... Are they saying I could make a call on my wifi internet, which is Comcast, using my T-Mobile number? And the call would switch over to T-Mobile if I walked out of reach of my wifi? Does that mean using no data and no minutes so long as the call is using wifi?

    At least from Apple's standpoint, yes... you could start a call on WiFi and then walk out the door and once WiFi is dropped, the call is seamlessly transferred to cellular. This is useful for homes or buildings with poor cellular reception.  You would probably still be docked minutes for using T-Mobile's network for the call.  You are just transferring the first connection to WiFi which you already pay for, presumably.

  • Reply 7 of 21
    ensoniq wrote: »
    All of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans are unlimited text and calling, so there are no minutes to be eaten up. It’s unlimited already, you're simply making the call via Wi-Fi instead of the T-Mobile network, which gives you the ability to make calls in far more places where cell signal is poor.

    And gets them off the hook for improving their network.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    And gets them off the hook for improving their network.

     

    They're making substantial improvements. We make a road trip with the family every Spring Break, and I've seen a lot better coverage in NW Texas and New Mexico this year than last year. Also, improvement in the voice service is not needed from what I see in Austin -- it's data coverage that I'd like to see improved (mostly needed between cities).

     

    That said, I'm still loving it for no-contract, BYOD, unlimited data, for $30/month. I'll only leave this plan when they decide to stop grandfathering me along...

  • Reply 9 of 21
    Note that Wi-Fi calling has been available from T-Mobile for YEARS via their legacy support for UMA/GAN protocols. I had my brother get a Samsung SGH-T339 flip-phone from them SIX YEARS AGO so that he could continue to make calls from the rural plant where he works, which is just on the edge of cell-tower range. The WiFi-to-celltower handoff works great, and he has been able to make WiFi calls from hotels when traveling overseas. IMHO Jobs made a STAGGERING blunder by not implementing WiFi calling in the iPhone from the get-go, and forcing carriers to support it; it takes a HUGE load off cell-towers when people are at home (and at work if employees are allowed to connect their devices to WiFi). Nice to see that Apple is finally figuring it out; better late than never I guess.
  • Reply 10 of 21
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    Other carriers should rush to roll this out because theoretically it lowers congestion on their network.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,418member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post



    Other carriers should rush to roll this out because theoretically it lowers congestion on their network.

    Which means, what?

    They'd have to come up with another excuse for throttling?

  • Reply 12 of 21
    So if I'm overseas I can make calls using the wifi in the hotel or Starbucks? What about receiving calls. Thinking of switching to T-mobile from Verizon. Live in the South Bay
  • Reply 13 of 21
    Again TMob paves the way and is way ahead of the competition with innovative products and deals.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    Maybe Apple is planning to eventually buy TMobile.
  • Reply 15 of 21

    Hey I have T-Mobile and started with an Apple iPhone before switching to Android to take advantage of the WiFi Calling features due to low signal at my house.  I'll be switching back to iPhone now that it supports WiFi calling.  Thought I could help a few of you out...

     

    1.  As mentioned, it does not connect through the cellular network but it does still use your minutes/text count.  The Simple Choice plans come with unlimited minutes and text so this is not a problem for most users.  If you select one of their data-focused plans (somewhat unpublished plans) that have limited text count / minutes you will not get around this using WiFi calling.

     

    2.  You can use it anywhere when connected to WiFi.  I travel a lot and use it in hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.  Of course if the public network you are connected to is saturated with people using it your WiFi call could suffer.  Most of the time for me it is fine, but sometimes at hotels when the internet speeds are SLOW it can get choppy for me.

     

    3.  I don't know how the iPhone will work, but with Android you can either prioritize it to use WiFi calling first and then Cell second when on WiFi, or you can prioritize it to use Cell first and fall back to Wifi calling when on WiFi.  You can also disable the feature entirely.

     

    4.  Currently in my neighborhood the calls DROP when you leave WiFi range.  However, today they announced that calls will no longer drop whenever you go from their VoLTE network to WiFi and vice versa.  Keep in mind that A) They only specified VoLTE today, and B) While they are rapidly upgrading all LTE towers to enable VoLTE it is not 100%, and C) Phone has to support VoLTE (iPhone 6 / Plus do).

     

    5.  They upgraded the WiFi calling functionality on everyone's phone today, including my LG G3.  Nobody is entirely sure all the improvements they made quite yet.  Hopefully fixed bugs and improved stability in addition to the VoLTE to WiFi transfer.

     

    Hey if you end up joining T-Mobile because of my time typing this send me a PM and we can mark each other as a referral.  You'll get unlimited data for a year and so will I.  To be totally transparent this really isn't that important to me because I already get 2.5GB with the standard family plan, but figure might as well throw a dart just in case...helps both of us :)  Don't let this cheese ending skew the value of my input above!

  • Reply 16 of 21
    jd_in_sb wrote: »
    Other carriers should rush to roll this out because theoretically it lowers congestion on their network.

    I'm curious to see the response to the sudden congestion on the ISP providers.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Silver Shadow View Post



    I'm curious to see the response to the sudden congestion on the ISP providers.

     

    Voice calling isn't exactly bandwidth heavy.
  • Reply 18 of 21

    I guess my first respond didn't make the cut, to help those out that asked questions I have WiFi calling on Android, but will be switching back to iPhone.  It was a lot better than this one, but I can paraphrase to help.

     

    1.  Your minutes count whether you use WiFi or Cellular.  Simple Choice plans include unlimited talk/text so it isn't an issue.

     

    2.  You can use it anywhere on WiFi - even international.  I use it all the time in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.  Of course if the network connection you are using is saturated (i.e. everyone in hotel WiFi streaming netflix) of course there is a chance your call could get choppy.

     

    3.  On Android you have three options.  A) Disable WiFi calling entirely, B) Use cellular first and fallback to WiFi calling when on WiFi, C) Use Wifi calling first and fallback to cellular on wifi.  Of course when you aren't on wifi it defaults to cellular.  :)  Nothing changes from a dialing standpoint once enabled - you call and text as usual.

     

    4.  Seamless transfer from WiFi access point to cellular tower was just enabled with announcement today, but they were very specific that it is with VoLTE only.  You phone has to support VoLTE (iPhone 6 supports it) and the LTE towers you're connected to have to have VoLTE enabled (they are currently working on this but not 100%).  They are also converting all 2G towers to LTE, which will further expand VoLTE support.

  • Reply 19 of 21
    What if you use GoogleVoice and use a pay go sim, would wifi calling still work you think?

    -that's what I'm doing on my 5c, I average $8/month is tolls, most is routed through GVoice via WiFi. It's physically impossible to text & drive. I can't receive my texts until I'm at a hotspot. And I like this.

    Most people my age would pay their cellphone bill before their rent, credit cards if they were on their last dime.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    And gets them off the hook for improving their network.

    This feature is great. There are lots of places outside cell towers have a hard time reaching. For instance, inside big concrete buildings. This addresses that problem. T-mobile's network continues to improve, but this addresses spotty coverage inside.
Sign In or Register to comment.