After receiving a waiver from the FCC early last week, AT&T has enabled Wi-Fi calling for customers with compatible devices.
According to a company blog post, the service was activated on Thursday, just two days after the carrier received the waiver from the FCC for certain deaf and hard of hearing technology. Customers on postpaid accounts using an iPhone 6, 6 Plus or above with iOS 9 can now activate Wi-Fi calling as a backup to allow voice calls when no cell phone signal is available, the company said. For the time being, the service is only available when calling or texting from the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Wi-Fi calling is a complement to AT&T’s strong cellular network coverage, and can be used to make calls if customers are in an area where cell signal is tough to get- like a home office or a building with dense walls,” an AT&T spokesman said. “Customers with iOS 9 and a Wi-Fi connection can set-up their device to use Wi-Fi calling as a backup, and since the service is built-in, they’ll have the same telephone number and access to contacts without having to add them to a separate app.”
To enable Wi-Fi calling, customers can simply access their settings menu, turn on the Wi-Fi Calling option and provide an address for 911 emergency call routing, according to the carrier’s Wi-Fi calling FAQ page. After set up, the device will automatically connect to an available Wi-Fi network when cell phone signals are weak or unavailable.
While domestic calls made on Wi-Fi calling don’t count against a user’s voice plan minutes, any international calls made on Wi-Fi will be charged using international rates. Messages sent over Wi-Fi will count against usage limits on a user’s current plan.
Wi-Fi calling has been offered by T-Mobile to Android users since 2007 and was made available to iPhone customers with iOS 8 within the last year. Sprint also made the service available in April of this year to users of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.
AT&T has previously accused the FCC of playing favorites in allowing the other carriers to retroactively apply for the waivers after deploying the service without them.