What Is Wi-Fi Calling?

Use your internet connection to have voice conversations

Wi-Fi calling is the ability to have incoming or outgoing voice and video conversations using an internet connection rather than a mobile network with your smartphones. Using Wi-Fi calling, you can talk to anyone, anywhere in the world.

What Wi-Fi-Calling Means

You may have heard the term Wi-Fi calling used by your mobile phone service provider, by your internet provider, or even by other people. It's a common term that references using an internet connection to make phone calls, but there's a little more to it than that.

Wi-Fi calling means using the internet, via a wireless internet network, for phone calls on a mobile device. The ability to send and receive Wi-Fi calls is built into most smartphones today, and most mobile service providers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and others, provide Wi-Fi calling for free (domestically). What's more, Wi-Fi calling uses a small amount of bandwidth (about 1 MB for voice calls or 6-4 MB for video calls), so it's not even necessary to have a high-speed internet connection to take advantage of Wi-Fi calling.

A young man talking on a smartphone and using a laptop at home.
​PeopleImages / Getty Images

Why People Use Wi-Fi Calling

Most of those service providers mentioned above have also enabled the ability to switch calls from a mobile network to a Wi-Fi network to carry call data seamlessly. So, if you start a phone call while you're in your car, that call would use the mobile network, but when you get home and your phone automatically reconnects to your wireless home internet, the call 'switches' to the internet network.

This happens for two reasons:

  • It increases network coverage. For phones that have Wi-Fi calling enabled, it is possible to switch a call to an open Wi-Fi network if the carrier network signal becomes weak.
  • To reduce the amount of data that is traveling over mobile networks. By reducing the congestion on mobile networks, all users on that network can experience higher quality mobile service.

For you, this means Wi-Fi calling can help you have better mobile network quality, and it can help you save money on your mobile service bill, especially if you pay for a limited number of minutes on your mobile plan. Calls made over a Wi-Fi network are usually free, when made within the U.S. or when made from international locations to the U.S.

Wi-Fi calls from the U.S. to other countries may incur charges, depending on the guidelines established by your mobile carrier.

How to Use Wi-Fi Calling

When you think of Wi-Fi calling, services like Skype or Zoom might come to mind, and they are services that work similarly to Wi-Fi calling. The big difference is that Wi-Fi calling is a feature on your smartphone that, once enabled, requires little additional input from you. Whether you're enabling Wi-Fi calling for an iPhone, turning it on for an Android phone, or trying to enable it on a Samsung phone, the instructions are all generally the same.

To enable Wi-Fi calling, all you need to do is go to your Cellular settings on iPhone or Mobile Network on Android and toggle Wi-Fi calling on. That's all.

All smartphones are different, and it's possible you'll have an iPhone or an Android phone that doesn't have these exact options. Generally, you're looking for a Settings option that is directly related to your cellular network, mobile network, or network connections. Once you find that the option to enable (or disable) Wi-Fi calling should be easy to locate.

After that, when you're within range of a Wi-Fi network, your calls will be delivered through the Wi-Fi network. When you're outside the range of a Wi-Fi network, your calls will be delivered through your service carrier's network, and it's unlikely that you'll ever notice the difference.