Vodafone has announced that it will roll out WiFi Calling across its UK network in the coming weeks.
The move will mean that customers can make calls over WiFi networks if no phone signal is available, such as in a basement flat, on the London Underground or in a remote location.
The service will work natively on the phone, removing the need to install or use an app, and will be introduced to any pay-monthly or Vodafone Red Bundle customer with a compatible handset. There is no cost to use the service.
Vodafone said that the service works with “a number of leading smartphones” but did not specify any models. V3 asked for more information on which devices can use the feature, but had received no reply at the time of publication.
However, it seems likely that top-of-the-range devices, such as the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6, will be able to use the feature as they already offer the same function on EE’s WiFi Calling service introduced in April.
Vodafone UK consumer director Cindy Rose claimed that the introduction of the service will be a real boost for customers as the company ramps up improvements to its network.
“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,” she said.
“Vodafone WiFi Calling is one of a series of future voice services we are launching for our customers over the next few months.”
The comment on “future voice services” is likely to be a reference to Voice over LTE (VoLTE) which operators are working on. VoLTE uses 4G networks, rather than 2G, to handle mobile calls.
This will result in far higher call quality, as well as faster connections. Calls connect almost instantly, rather than having to wait around five seconds before it begins ringing.
Vodafone rival EE said earlier this week that it is still testing its VoLTE service but hopes to launch soon.
“We can confirm VoLTE is currently being trialled across the EE network,” the firm said, before noting that it will not launch until it is confident of the service working as well as possible.
“We’re going to continue to trial internally until the dropped call rate is at or below our current 0.4 percent benchmark,” EE said.