U.K. mobile operator EE has announced the launch of WiFi Calling, making calls and texts available in every Wi-Fi connected home and small office in the country. EE said its seamless service will allow users to switch between calling over mobile and Wi-Fi networks. Designed for home or office use, it does not enable switching between the two in mid-call. Customers join the service by sending a text message. Even if a personal Wi-Fi network is used, the customer will be billed as if they had made the call in a normal manner. The service cannot use it to make cheaper calls from abroad. CEO Olaf Swantee said he expects around 5 million people to be able to use the service by the summer. It will initially be offered to postpaid customers using the Lumia 640 or Samsung S6 and S5 smartphones. WiFi Calling will first be available to consumer and small business customers with compatible devices, and then will be extended to EE’s corporate 4G customers this summer.
Wi-Fi has been invading cellular’s turf lately in a number of ways, from public Wi-Fi networks that link diverse signals to device-specific seamless services that allow mid-call switching between cellular and Wi-Fi. Some of these solutions are offered by MNOs, while some come from other types of technology companies. In general, there is increasing overlap between the two kinds of signal. With that in mind, we believe it is a good idea for operators to get as involved in IP-based Wi-Fi voice calling as possible, and EE is making a step in the right direction.