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UK Mobile Operator EE Launches Seamless WiFi Calling Service

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 (9:08 am) - Score 2,225
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EE has beaten Vodafone to the punch by becoming the first primary Mobile Network Operator in the United Kingdom to launch a practically seamless WiFi calling service, which means that customers who can’t get a good cell signal can still make calls.. so long as there’s a usable WiFi network nearby.

The operator claims that a quarter of people in the UK work from home at least one day per week and apparently 20% of those lose mobile reception during the day, hence the need for EE’s new service.

The new service is designed to integrate as closely as possible with the device, which means that it uses the phone’s normal dialler and contact book to make calls, and the normal text button to send text messages (i.e. no special separate app or closed contact group required).

Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, said:

Losing coverage at home is a major frustration, and WiFi Calling will make a real difference to millions of customers across the UK, from basement flats in London to the most rural homes in the country. Our customers want to be able to call and text no matter where they are, and they don’t want to have to think about which app they need to use or if their friends have a particular third party service.”

Apparently the new service will, from 10th April, be available to owners of the Lumia 640, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Many more new and existing devices will be added to the list of supported hardware over the coming weeks and months.

Meanwhile Vodafone plans to launch a rival service this summer and EE seems to have forgotten Three UK’s similar inTouch service, although it’s not as seamless as EE’s solution. O2’s TU GO is also very similar. Essentially the core idea is nothing new.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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14 Responses
  1. Avatar Kekle

    Three have had this feature for a while with their “Three inTouch” service – http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Three_inTouch

    • Avatar Unknown101

      Kekle – the EE WiFi calling feature doesn’t require an app on the phone as long as your connected to wireless network the call/SMS will be made through the wireless not 2G/3G/4G.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      Yep, but you’ve got to have the right phone (only three at the moment with EE, and look at the cost of them) vs set up on the app once on many more phones with 3. So which is the more convenient for more people then?

      That’s the problem with marketing. It’s what it doesn’t say. Though to those people with more money than sense (not difficult I’ll grant) it doesn’t matter, I suppose.

    • Avatar Kekle

      @Unknown101 – I’d argue that the app route is more convenient for most people.

    • Avatar Matt

      Three in Touch App for various people has poor voice quality for one thing so is a major let down. You have to keep check of two places for Messages. On iOS it is even worse this and I don’t think the App will be able to handover from WiFi Calling to VoLTE like this can.

    • Avatar james vincent

      @Matt. The call quality of Three’s ThreeInTouch app is fine. It depends of wifi quality, so would be the same on EE. Also on ThreeInTouch, the app syncs with the phone’s SMS app so all texts are in both applications. Android will switch to ThreeInTouch app if it feels it needs to use wifi over cell. apple phones arent intelligent enough to do this so iOS peep will need to make this decision manually. Three’s choice is something which everyone can have. I understand that three may be working on making network adjustments and planning push updates to handsets. EE should have launched this last autumn. Now it’s here, they’re being selective and giving Samsung priority.
      On either network, this is helps. I dont believe it solves the problem of coverage black spots. I’ve just returned to Three. All working fine so far.

    • Avatar Matt

      @JamesVincent

      I’ve just got it working on my iPhone 6. So clearly there is a solid option available for iOS people. Everything works from the standard dialler and message app no over the top thing. Beautiful voice quality whenever I used the Three InTouch app on my HTC One M7 there was always horrible feedback was the app as it never happened when I was using there network. Plus the fact EE has visual voicemail makes them a better network than Three for me at moment.

  2. Avatar Peter Knapp

    This isn’t really new news. You were able to do this on Blackberry on Orange years ago. Saved our bacon loads of times working in comms rooms in basements, we merely carried a £10 WAP with us..

  3. Roll-on converged services, it does suggest we need numbering data bases to be run centrally at some point.

  4. I wonder if it will also work for receiving calls, and how good it is at deciding whether to use the wifi or not?

  5. Avatar Knowledge

    Come on now, EE/Orange have been doing this for ages with BlackBerry with no App needed, Basically, UMA.

    Do your research, it’s not new it’s just that they have integrated the feature from the Orange side of the business for devices which are compatible.

    • Avatar phrixus

      @Knowledge UMA is a dead technology no recent handset’s support it anymore.
      Wifi calling is implemented differntley even though to the end user they look the same.

  6. Avatar james vincent

    @Matt. yeah I hear Visual Voicemail is really good. Not seen it myself. The OTT [Over The Top] app is just an extra something we need to add nxt to the stock dialler. If EE works better then thats the thing to stick with! It will be interesting how WiFi calling develops & how many people will take up the option in the future. The next challenge is Voice over LTE…

    • Avatar Matt

      Very true indeed James I was surprised it started working last night honestly you could easily not realise you using WiFi Calling. Which I think is the advantage of this over the app but I can see why the App is good as it works for more devices. Visual Voicemail is brilliant It has made my life so much easier I got several voicemails a day now I can listen to them like I would a music file. But you are correct push on VoLTE so WiFi Calling can hand over and not drop calls.

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