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Author Topic: Mobiles’ “Wifi Calling” - how does it manage to work / does it work?  (Read 1484 times)

Weaver

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Janet has mobile phone service with EE and gets 'Wifi Calling' which as I understand it redirects to use the wireless LAN and our house's internet connection when her phone is out of GSM / UMTS coverage, which is often the case inside the enormously thick stone walls of this 19th C former blackhouse, so it's very valuable indeed. Somehow EE's wifi calling seems to work properly despite the evils of our internet connection, so it must be a lot cleverer than AA's VoIP. Perhaps it uses QoS over  ITH IP and L2 as I've never EE noticed it fail, not that I've done a special test with thrashing the network connection with a simultaneous flat out download or upload. It is an international standard iirc. Has anyone else ever tested wifi calling or heard of it failing?
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Ronski

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My brother uses it on Three, always seems to work very well.

Whenever he uses WhatsApp for calling it's terrible, odd that the wifi calling works so well, yet WhatsApp doesn't.
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sevenlayermuddle

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I believe it to be a 'serious' feature, ie not a gimic.  I think a few operators even use it to magically allow mobile phones to work in London underground stations.

Not any use to me though as Vodafone don't offer it on payg, and anyway I don't think my ageing iPhone 5c supports it.
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Weaver

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I think it's has to be a combination of really sound design from the ground up, done by people who really know their stuff, plus fullest usage of QoS at all stages as I can't see it having a chance without. And as I said earlier I think there would absolutely have to be L2- as well as L3-QoS otherwise there would be no chance of it working half the time, as you could easily get a very congested home wireless LAN, never mind the internet access pipe and wider internet, and it could easily completely fall apart just because of the WLAN so that means L2-QoS ("WME" / "WMM").

Andrews and Arnold's VoIP as far as I know (but what do I know) doesn't use L3 QOS at all,  so whether it works or not relies on the power of prayer. The ISP-end Firebrick routers prioritise small packets as a heuristic in the hope this will work, but this could fail in a pathological case where there is congestion elsewhere or if there is competing traffic from an odd alien small-packet protocol running flat out. And in the case of upstream, then the user could be using a random router so in that case AA has no chance because they are not in control. I would like to see the  VoIP system changed to use L3 QoS everywhere. Firebricks at the home user end should also use L2 QoS marking and remarking in the direction L3->L2, and possibly the reverse too L2->L3 but perhaps only if the packets have no L3 markings or some such rule, possibly configurable. I can think of more fancy mapping schemes too. There is no mention of the use of QoS anywhere, the docs just mention small packets, so I may well have got this all completely wrong, in which case apologies to the Firebrick devs.
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tickmike

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On our iphones we can use WiFi calling to other WiFi enabled iphones instead of using your 'Data' just like a normal conversion , we also use 'FaceTime' video conferencing over WiFi to our Daughter with no problem even on our poor internet connection.
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Weaver

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At the moment Janet's EE wi-fi calling thing appears not to be working. I could try and do a proper test by doing a traffic capture. The reason I am doubtful about it is that there is no expected UI indicator showing on her iPhone 5 SE. She changed her phone about a year ago and I never thought to check if this feature was working.

Any ideas how I could fix this ?
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j0hn

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My partners Nokia 8 Android handset upgraded firmware recently. Since then the majority of her calls show as WiFi Calling.
If the mobile signal is weak or there is none at all it will use the phones WiFi connection to make the call. It will use your home broadband to access to operators network without you or the call recipient noticing anything different.

Not to be confused with things like Skype or Hangouts that make WiFi calls.

Reading a bit more in to it with Androids there appears to have been no industry standard as such. All mobile companies (o2, EE, etc) didn't use the same setup and often needed operator specific firmware for it to work.

So if I was with EE and had a Samsung S7 I might need to install the EE branded firmware on my S7 to use WiFi calling. Alternatively buy an S7 locked to the EE network that already had their branding and bloatware apps preinstalled.
Then if I switched network I would need to install the new networks firmware to use WiFi calling with them.

Looks like they are getting their act together on this though. My partners Nokia 8 is generic/unbranded and the WiFi Calling works on the 2 different networks I've tried.

Looks like my Huawei Mate 9 Pro isn't capable of WiFi Calling, regardless of network.
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kitz

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Quote
Not to be confused with things like Skype or Hangouts that make WiFi calls.

Indeed.  Wifi calling tends to eat into your call plan and comes out of your usual tariff, which is why it tends to not be available on PAYG. 
Not all phones support it, but as I got a new phone week before last I was umming and ahing whether to activate it when I was going through and playing all the new phone settings as you do.   

Turns out although my phone will support it & even though I'm on a contract, my call plan doesn't and I would need to upgrade to a higher package (RED).  As I'm quite happy with my existing call & data plan I decided no way am I going to pay at least an extra Ł9pm to go to one of the Red Plans which actually has less data than my existing plan.  ???

Quote
WhatsApp for calling
WhatsApp works brilliantly here and never had a problem with it.   In fact just last I was at the bottom of my garden last week when my daughter started a whatsapp video call to show new furbaby.   As it's summer, there's a tree in the way and although I had minimal bars, the picture quality and sound was fine.   DD always uses Whatsapp for all her voice calls to friends and family as she has more data than minutes. 


....  which leads on to if this is for Mrs Weaver and her mum, why don't they just use Facetime/Skype/WhatsApp as it may work out cheaper and you not have to worry about only having one of the latest phones which can support it.   
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Weaver

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This is for Janet herself, trying to get her actual phone to be a lot more reliable in dodgy corners of the house.

As for her mum, if I can persuade Janet to install good DSL at her mum’s house then it will definitely be Facetime all the time et week the two of them, because then she can actually see Janet and her world and they can use iPads with their bigger screens so it's easier for old eyes to see.
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lloyd

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Looks like they are getting their act together on this though. My partners Nokia 8 is generic/unbranded and the WiFi Calling works on the 2 different networks I've tried.


Which networks?  WiFi calling works on my Nokia 5 on EE (SIM only), but thinking of moving to a different SIM only deal with Vodafone.
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adrianw

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I have a SIM-only Vodafone RED contract. WiFi calling shows as enabled for my account, but I cannot get it going on my Nexus 5x. Does not appear as an option in phone / settings /calls.
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