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O2 UK Expects to Add SMS Support to WiFi Calling in 2021

Monday, January 11th, 2021 (12:10 am) - Score 6,888
o2 uk logo white background telefonica

Mobile operator O2 (Telefonica UK) has informed ISPreview.co.uk that, after a long wait, they intend to join the other primary operators by adding the ability to send and receive text (SMS) messages via Wi-Fi Calling, which they’re aiming to introduce “later this year.”

All of the major mobile operators currently support Wi-Fi Calling (VoWiFi) which, as the name suggests, enables consumers with a supporting Smartphone to harness their home WiFi connection or a public WiFi hotspot in order to make mobile voice calls (this seamlessly hands back to 4G when you move out of range).

The feature is important because many services use SMS as part of two-factor authentication services (e.g. banks, Vodafone’s own account system etc.) and a lot of those don’t work with alternatives like WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage (many people still don’t use those platforms in general). Equally it’s just a really useful feature to have.

However, following Vodafone’s recent upgrade (here), O2 is now the only major operator to lack SMS support on VoWiFi and quite a few of our readers say they’ve been unable to get a solid answer from the operator about their long-running plans to introduce it. The good news is that we now have a rough answer.

A Spokesperson for O2 told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We’re aiming to have the service available for our customers later this year. I can’t be more precise than that at this stage.”

In fairness, adding SMS to VoWiFi is a complex thing to implement and requires a lot of testing, although at least we now have a sort of target by which to gauge O2’s progress. However, the operator may have a lot of other things to think about during 2021, not least of which is their forthcoming mega merger with broadband operator Virgin Media UK, and then there’s the imminent auction of new 5G friendly mobile spectrum (although the new COVID-19 lockdown might delay that.. again).

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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.
Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. André says:

    VoWiFi has been around for…. what 4 years now?
    Seems like they dropped the ball a bit here.

  2. Please says:

    Bring back TuGo !!!

  3. Keith Sloane says:

    Hope O2 give cheaper deals I was with 02 pays go now on contact

  4. BarryW says:

    I won’t hold my breath, they have said this many times before. Unfortunately many organisations expect to be able to send a text for 2FA but there are many like myself that do not receive a mobile signal from any of the providers.

    I prefer to use O2 but I may have to move to Vodafone. EE and 3 are appalling all around my locality.

  5. If only... says:

    Now the MNO’s have it, I wonder when the MVNO’s will get it? That’s the only real disadvantage ATM, and it’d be great to see it rolled out.

    1. ACDEAG says:

      Virgin Media and Sky Mobile now do Wi-Fi calling. Sky as they are on O2’s network give a good alternative for those who need to keep O2’s coverage.

  6. grs says:

    I really do hope O2 finally bring this to market. They’ve been promising it since at least October 2017 when they tweeted that it would be available “next year”.

    The annoying thing is, their own accounts system uses SMS as 2FA, so unless you actually have mobile coverage, you can’t get into your O2 account…

  7. Barry Wilkinson says:

    Any further news on this?

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