Vodafone UK launches wifi calling

UK operator Vodafone’s latest move in the country’s telecoms arms race has been to announce the launch of wifi calling on its UK mobile network.

EE was the first UK operator to launch wifi calling, back in April, so Vodafone is playing catch up with this announcement. Its messaging is pretty similar to EE’s, stressing how much better operator wifi calling is than OTT services, as you don’t have to start up an app and you can use your mobile number.

The limitations also remain the same, however, principally the inability to hand the call over from wifi to cellular if you leave the range of your wifi in the middle of a call. This is, of course, a first world problem, but nonetheless takes the edge off the product. This issue is only solved with the launch of VoLTE, which is why EE is keen to draw attention to its efforts in this regard.

“Our wifi calling service allows customers to talk to loved ones, friends and colleagues for longer and in many more places. It is easy to use and doesn’t cost a penny more,” said Vodafone UK Consumer Director Cindy Rose.

“It works wherever a customer is connected to wifi, in a café, at home or the office, and automatically connects just like a normal call when a mobile signal is weak or non-existent. Vodafone WiFi Calling is a great match for Vodafone Broadband, our new superfast home broadband offering. Its special beam-forming technology ensures that a strong signal follows your phone wherever you take it around your home. Vodafone WiFi Calling is one of a series of future voice services we are launching for our customers over the next few months.”

That last claim is the most telling. Wifi calling is starting to look like an indicator of more profound network upgrades to come, such as VoLTE. Operators are still being pretty cagey about precise VoLTE launch dates, implying they’re not sure when it’s going to happen. However they’re also desperate not to be beaten to the punch by their competitors, so they will keep teasing imminent launches for fear of being viewed as behind the curve.

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