Wi-Fi calling has been around for many years, but confusion remains about what it is, how it works, and why it’s expected to grow in popularity.
Wi-Fi calling is the ability to make a voice or video call using a Wi-Fi connection rather than cellular. It’s most often used at multifamily communities when a cellular connection is spotty. The service is becoming table stakes for properties everywhere.
Let’s start with the basics.
Wi-Fi calling is a great, cost-effective feature for enhancing indoor and outdoor coverage, but it’s only effective when the community is equipped with the right Wi-Fi network. That’s why property owners are opting for managed, community-wide Wi-Fi to power Wi-Fi calling. This network approach ensures residents can stay connected when talking throughout the property, from parking garage to apartment to common areas.
To use Wi-Fi calling, residents must enable the feature on a Wi-Fi calling-capable device, like iPhones, iPads and Samsung Galaxy products. The resident’s cellular carrier must also support the feature. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all provide this offering.
Now for the debunking.
As with any emerging technology, there’s a lot of myths about Wi-Fi calling. Here’s a rundown of the most common ones.
Wi-Fi calling often leads to a dropped call when a resident leaves their unit
This is true for buildings that have spotty cell coverage and don’t have Wi-Fi everywhere. Buildings with community-wide Wi-Fi networks enable residents’ phones to automatically roam from access point to access point, preserving the Wi-Fi call with little or no interruption.
5G will cure all problems and eliminate the need for Wi-Fi calling
Wi-Fi calling and managed Wi-Fi networks are becoming even more important in the 5G era. Residents already complain about poor phone performance indoors vs.outdoors. This will grow as 5G networks roll out, as 5G’s millimeter wave frequencies can’t easily penetrate modern apartments’ walls and low-e glass. To ensure resident satisfaction, owners should complement carrier strategies by implementing a solid Wi-Fi foundation at their properties. Owners who maintain the status quo and leave their indoor wireless experience in the hands of cable companies and telcos will soon be leap-frogged by competitors who take control of their wireless networks.
Call quality is noticeably worse over Wi-Fi than it is over a cellular connection
This is true for buildings with slow, spotty, congested Wi-Fi networks. This was also true more broadly in the early days of Wi-Fi calling, when Wi-Fi networks were slow and Wi-Fi calling technologies were nascent. But here in 2020, for buildings with properly-managed Wi-Fi networks, call quality and experience is as good over Wi-Fi as it is over cellular.
Demand for Wi-Fi calling in apartment communities is only growing in popularity given the demands for boundless connectivity everywhere. It’s a sure bet for any property that wants to compete in the 5G era.