WiFi Calling from EE goes live this week and here’s how it works, how to get started, who is eligible, how much it costs – and everything else you need to know.
While it pretty much does what it says on the tin – it lets you make voice calls over WiFi when the regular network is not available – there’s a few other things you probably want to know about the service. We’ve already gone hands-on with EE’s new calling service, but here’s how you can get started to try it for yourself.
EE WiFi Calling: How do I get set up?
Once you’ve got your EE SIM installed, head over to ee.co.uk/wificalling to register. You’ll need to enter your mobile number and eventually you’ll be sent all of the details you’ll need via text.
Currently this feature will only work on Android and Windows Phones if you’ve bought your phone directly from EE. If you’ve bought an Android or Windows Phone device on an EE contract from someone like Carphone Warehouse, then you won’t be able to set up WiFi Calling.
This issue doesn’t affect iPhone owners. If you’ve bought an iPhone 5C, 5S, 6 or 6 Plus from EE, Carphone Warehouse or you’ve got one unlocked, all you’ll need is an active EE pay monthly SIM.
How much does EE WiFi Calling cost?
It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use WiFi Calling. Voice calls made over WiFi will come out of your monthly allowance, as usual. So, if you’ve got an EE pay monthly plan that gives you 500 minutes, then a 5 minute call will come out of that allowance regardless of whether you’ve made the call over the cellular network or over WiFi.
There are no plans to include things like ‘WiFi minutes’ or anything – they will just treated as regular calls for the foreseeable future.
Similar services like TalkTalk’s Talk2Go and Virgin Media’s SmartCall let you leverage unused home phone minutes, but that’s not what EE WiFi Calling is about.
Can I get WiFi Calling on EE PAYG?
Not yet. EE is bringing WiFi Calling to the higher end devices first and to customers on contract. There’s no clear timescale yet for WiFi Calling coming to cheaper phones on pay as you go.
Will WiFi Calling work on a SIM Only plan?
Yes. As SIM Only plans are technically pay monthly deals, you’ll be able to set up WiFi Calling if you buy a SIM Only plan from EE.
Which phones work with EE WiFi Calling?
Right now, the following phones sold by EE will work with WiFi Calling:
- Apple iPhone 5C
- Apple iPhone 5S
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone 6 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S6
- Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
- Microsoft Lumia 640
This will be rolled out to other phones eventually, starting with the high-end and rolling down to mid-range and lower-end phones.
It might be the case that WiFi Calling is rolled out in tandem with updates to Android 5.0 Lollipop on certain phones. Unfortunately, EE isn’t currently able to say which other devices might get WiFi Calling in the near future.
We expect that it’s on the cards for high-enders like the HTC One (M9) and LG G4, but nothing’s officially confirmed as of yet.
During Mobile World Congress, EE said that WiFi Calling would be coming to the Lumia 640 XL as well. It seems like that’s not happening right now, but we’ll update the above list as and when this changes.
EE WiFi Calling: When is it coming to iPhones?
Apple announced that WiFi Calling was coming to a number of iOS devices way back in WWDC 2014.
While the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus along with the older 5S and 5C are due to play ball with WiFi EE Calling – we can confirm that this is still in the pipeline – there’s still no launch date.
EE WiFi Calling: Where can I make calls?
If you’re connected to WiFi and you’ve authenticated the network (i.e. you’ve entered the password) you can use WiFi Calling.
Whether you’re in the home, in the office or even underground where there’s no signal, you’ll be able to make a WiFi call. This is great news for people living in basement flats or working anywhere with patchy reception.
This also means people will now be taking calls on the London Underground, if they’re hooked up to Virgin Media’s network. EE customers can use Virgin’s subterranean wireless network for free, provided they register their device.
The same goes for public WiFi networks like BT Wi-fi or The Cloud. If you’re all set up to go on these networks already, you should be good to go.
“It’s natural, it’s the same as using your phone. You just go into the dialler and make a call. There’s no app, just use the phone’s in-built functionality.” – Tom Bennett, director of network services at EE.EE WiFi Calling: Can I use it to make calls abroad?
No. EE WiFi Calling is not like other VoIP services in that sense. It’s primary function is to essentially turn your wireless router and other WiFi access points you use into mini-mobile masts when you’re in the UK.
Due to technical considerations, it’s currently not possible to use this service outside of the UK. The moment you start roaming on a foreign network, your phone will automatically disable WiFi Calling.
EE WiFi Calling: Minimum requirements
The minimum wireless speed required for WiFi Calling to work is 500Mbps up and down.
If you’ve got an old router in the home that’s not capable of delivering those kinds of speeds, it might be a good time to invest in some new hardware or ask your ISP for an upgrade.
EE WiFi Calling: Can I start a call on WiFi and continue talking on 4G, 3G or 2G?
Not yet. Right now, if you start a call on WiFi and leave the house, that call will drop the moment you move beyond the radius of your WiFi network. Equally, if you move into an area of your home where network coverage is strong, but the WiFi signal is too weak to support the call, it won’t work.
EE is still working on the process of handing over WiFi calls to the cellular network (and vice versa) and hopes to have this ready later this year.
This is all tied up in the launch of VoLTE – Voice over LTE. Regular readers might remember that EE sketched out some details about this last year.
In laymans terms, VoLTE means you’ll eventually be able to make voice calls over EE’s 4G network. Promised benefits of this include greatly improved call quality, decreased dropped call rate and less time spent waiting to connect.
Normally when you call someone on a regular cellular phone you have to wait a few seconds before the dial tone. When we saw some demos of VoLTE calls last year, the connection was virtually instantaneous.
As well as all these perks, you’ll also be able to seamlessly switch between voice calls on WiFi and voice calls on 4G, which is perhaps the most important thing.
Annoyingly, there’s no ETA for this right now other than ‘later in the year’ but we’ll keep you posted.
Check out our hands-on review of EE WiFi calling
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