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O2 UK to Start Roll Out of SMS for WiFi Calling by End of 2021

Saturday, November 13th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 9,312
O2-WiFi-Calling-Smartphone

Mobile operator O2 (VMO2) has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that, after a long wait, they intend to finally start rolling out SMS (text messaging) support for Wi-Fi Calling “before the end of the year“, but this will be a gradual phased process that looks set to continue more widely during Q1 2022.

At present all the major mobile network operators already 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 / office WiFi hotspot, in order to make mobile voice calls – this seamlessly hands back to mobile calling when you move out of range.

However, O2 is currently the only major operator that doesn’t include SMS support on VoWiFi. The feature is important because, despite being generally useful, many services today use SMS as part of two-factor account authentication (e.g. banks and O2’s own account system) and a lot of those simply don’t work with alternatives, such as WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage.

Back in January, O2 informed us that they intended to add SMS support to Wi-Fi Calling by the end of 2021 (here), but since then there have been no further updates and some customers were expecting another delay. But the good news is that the rollout should at least start this year, even if it might take a little while longer to complete. Initial device support will also be limited to only “certain android” phones.

A Spokesperson for VMO2 told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Our current plans are to start to roll out text over Wi Fi on certain android devices before the end of the year, with this continuing more widely in Q1 next year.”

As it stands there’s only a month and a half left of 2021 to go, so it shouldn’t be long before we start to see the new feature cropping up.

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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
20 Responses
  1. anonymous says:

    How about them just generally allowing WiFi calling capable phones to just work?

    There supported/allowed list of phones are rather poor like no new Xiaomi 5g phones even ones out for a year like 10t lite. Other operators allow them access.

    1. Leave a Reply says:

      Xiaomi… please. Ask Xiaomi to align to standards first.

    2. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      “Xiaomi… please. Ask Xiaomi to align to standards first.”

      I’ve found my Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro to be a really capable phone. I use it for 4G and WiFi Whatsapp calls, as well as any other Android apps I use. It’s got a 64 Megapixel camera, 64/6 GB memory, and still works as well as the day I received it in Jan 2020, so it’s not far off 2 years old now.
      Since the Xiaomi 5G phones are cheap, I would buy one without hesitation when the time comes to upgrade. Since the Xiaomi phones use Android as an operating system, and the phones are Europe Certified, what standards are you referring to?

    3. anonymous says:

      Xiaomi is the number one seller of smartphones in 2021 overtaking Samsung. Although expected to slip to number 2 once Samsung releases new models, they are expected to be prominent number one again in a battle to stay at the top.

      Xiaomi are certified in EU too so not sure why ‘leave a reply’ comes out with I’ll informed statement.

    4. Bubbles says:

      my Xiaomis are the best phones I’ve ever had for the price, I first started on a RN7, went to a RN8 and now on a RN9

  2. M says:

    It’s like asking 3 to support Visual Voicemail and E-SIM it seems. We feel your pain.

    1. Fastlane256 says:

      For some reason when I joined three it showed a visual voicemail until my number ported over. Maybe they are planning one.

  3. MikeP says:

    The other grief with WiFi calling is support for it on PAYG as well as contract. I ended up on iD as the conclusion of my search for that. Held my nose as it’s CPW.
    I’d assumed SMS wouldn’t be supported, as it doesn’t seem to be on my work Voda contract, so was pleasantly surprised when I found it worked. So recommended it to a neighbour equally cheesed off with driving up the lane when SMS MFA required…

    1. ACDEAG says:

      iD runs on Three, Three do not discriminate on wifi calling between contract and PAYG.

  4. James Potts says:

    I struggle just to connect to a signal I’ve got a Nokia G50 I live in Stacey bushes near Wolverton so why don’t O2 sort that out first

    1. Leave a Reply says:

      Because nobody will build a mast in the middle of nowhere for 5 people.

    2. Jay says:

      You should get an improved service soon I’d imagine as Vodafone and O2 are upgrading the mast off Monks Way just the other side of the railway line and raising its height by 10m as well as adding 5G capability.

  5. Ronan D says:

    Amazing progress by o2 – only 6 or so years after EE deployed it.

  6. El Guapo says:

    Why did they kill of TuGo? I loved it. I had an O2 phone for work, but I could use TuGo on my tablet, my phone etc and everything worked. Calls and texts. Then they just axed it out of nowhere.

    Now they’re slowly brining back some of the features we had on TuGo 5+ years ago.

  7. Karl Betts says:

    O2 was the worst network I’ve used. Data and calls never worked together as they should do. Calls would drop every time. In the end changed to EE now I not only get calls and data without any problems calls never drop now.

    Every time I talked to O2 they never could find the problem and they never wanted to fix it. But they took my money every month. So be warned.

    1. MrDeo says:

      Could have been your mix of phone+carrier too.
      If you were missing band 40, but had bands 7 (and perhaps 38) then EE would slap o2 silly (If your in an area where those bands are supported).
      Keep in mind too that EE allows bands 3 and 7 with that core 20 band, o2 doesnt.
      My phone doesn’t support all of the Vodafone bands (Band 32) so everything else being equal, someone else who has a phone supporting that band would see their service with Voda being better than mine, and all other carriers being the same quality.

    2. MrDeo says:

      Wish I could edit post.
      Every phone should support band 7, so just strike the first part out ;P…
      Just the 38 vs 40 would make the difference.
      1,3,7,8,20 will be supported in all main hardware I would think, so the 7 is moot (Other than the fact that EE uses it as a core band).

  8. MilesT says:

    Sort of related question..is there any provider that will allow you to forward all SMS (and calls) to another number or email/app?

    I have a couple of old numbers (both now on PAYG) that I keep so people can contact me but I never use for calling. A legacy of corporate phones where I couldn’t port in my existing number but was allowed to port out and keep it.

    Current manage these on a second dual sim phone but no phone and permanent forwards would suit me better. Would happily pay a modest PAYG for every call/text/voicemail forwarded.

    I know there are apps that will do forwarding but that still needs a powered up phone at home (on WiFi).

    Niche use case maybe, but any options?

  9. MrDeo says:

    I have seen this talked about for a few years now, but never seen any hard tech info on it. So is this Carrier based RCS? Or actually MMS over the internet/WiFi?
    I have seen plenty of people talk about “SMS over WiFi” but never – Never – seen a phone that would send text (SMS) without a carrier signal.

    So under this system, if you pay for SMS/MMS that is, you would pay for sending a SMS/MMS over WiFi?

    This basically has no benefit over RCS as far as I can tell.

  10. Guy Cashmore says:

    I’m guessing this means they will soon withdraw support for the Boostbox product, which will be a pity, ours has proven 100% reliable over 5 years use and supports all services, allowing the full use of non O2 supplied phones. As O2 don’t sell any ‘tough’ phones, or allow WiFi calling if the phone didn’t come from them, I’m not sure what we’ll do here, a standard phone wouldn’t last a week with me.

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