This week AT&T launched Wi-Fi calling on recent iPhone models running iOS 9. The U.S. carrier first needed to acquire approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before it could offer this feature. The in-demand service allows users to make calls without cell reception or even internationally if permitted by the carrier.
Wi-Fi calling isn’t exclusive to AT&T; T-Mobile and Sprint already offer Wi-Fi calling on certain devices. T-Mobile piloted the project back in 2007, without permission from the FCC. However, T-Mobile goes a step further by allowing its customers to make Wi-Fi calls to “virtually anywhere,” while AT&T has restricted calls to only the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
For AT&T users, the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 6 and 6 Plus will support Wi-Fi Calling on iOS 9. Apple’s website says enabling Wi-Fi calling is as easy as going to Settings> Phone>Wi-Fi calling, where you will then be prompted to answer a few questions.
AT&T had some harsh words for the FCC about allowing its competitors to offer Wi-Fi Calling without the same waiver of permission AT&T had to battle to receive. The waiver, for instance, allows AT&T to offer this service without being required to provide teletypewriter communications for the hearing and speech impaired.
“We are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time,” Jim Cicconi, senior executive VP of external affairs for AT&T, said.
With three major carriers already on board, it is expected Verizon Wireless will be the next to adopt the practice. Given the fact it’s the country’s largest carrier, chances are it is waiting to be granted a similar waiver from the FCC.