Bill Bennett


WiFi Calling lets you phone without a cell signal

Calling from homeIf you suffer from poor mobile reception, carriers have an answer: WiFi Calling.

Our house has never had the best cellular reception. It can be hit and miss. Sometimes calls drop out, other times the audio quality is poor. It’s variable there are days when the back deck is a dead spot on other days there’s no signal in the home office.

It has meant missed calls, misheard calls and dropouts at awkward moments.

That’s all in the past now we have WiFi calling. In effect WiFi Calling turns the home WiFi router into a tiny, local cell site.

What are the benefits of WiFi Calling?

It costs nothing, doesn’t require a new phone number and works seamlessly to the point that you don’t even need to think about using it.

The practical results are fewer missed calls or dropouts and better call quality. Engineers say it can extend your phone’s battery life as they no longer need to crank up the power to track down a weak cell signal.

Calls are safe when using a home or workplace WiFi connection. Mobile calls are encrypted end-to-end which means no-one can listen in although if security is important to you it is worth remembering that public WiFi are potentially risky.

What do I need to get WiFi Calling?

While you don’t need to do much to get WiFi calling, there are a few basic requirements.

First, you need to have a suitable phone. Almost every phone sold in the last two or three years should be able to handle WiFi calling. It even works on an eight year old iPhone 5S.

Your phone software needs to be up-to-date. There shouldn’t be a problem with this although some Android users may find their phone brand has not updated the software recently.

Second, you need to have a phone account with either 2degrees or Vodafone. Spark does not offer WiFi calling at the time of writing although it is on the way.

Third, you need to be near a suitable WiFi router. Not every router supports WiFi Calling, this is especially the case with open access WiFi hotspots.

What does WiFi Calling cost?

There’s no extra charge to use WiFi Calling in New Zealand. It’s almost free.

If you use it on a capped broadband connection, the data will count towards the cap. Mind you, voice calls sip data sparingly. Otherwise the calls you make and the txts you send count as part of your mobile plan. This means if you call overseas, you’ll pay for a toll call.

If you travel overseas you will find a call made using WiFi Calling is charged as a domestic New Zealand call. You may get hit with other charges, but you can turn mobile reception off and leave WiFi on to save money.

26 thoughts on “WiFi Calling lets you phone without a cell signal

  1. So…. Funny story. I ran into an ex colleague who is still at Spark. I should have hit him up about it, as voice had been a political football for a number of years.

  2. I’m surprised the other carriers don’t sell WiFi Calling more aggressively, it makes a huge difference for people with poor or erratic mobile coverage – which is more people than we sometimes think.

  3. One thing I’m not certain about is the current state of Android phone upgrades. There are iOS updates for 8 years old iPhones. Nokia boasts it does 3 years implying other Android makers do less… and that may means some not-so-old phones can’t use WiFi Calling

  4. IMHO Android uses planned obsolescence as a feature. Beyond 2-3 years after launch you are on your own. In some cases it can be much less. There are no incentives for makers or Google to do better.

  5. Thanks for that Bill, I had set my wife’s iPhone up ages ago, and had forgotten to set my own up. Sorted now and on 2Degrees

  6. The 2degrees WIFI Mobile service is brilliant. I live in a hilly rural area with zero mobile coverage. In the past I’d only get texts and mobile calls when I hit mobile coverage, about 10km from home. Now I can two-factor authenticate, and make and receive mobile calls without using my landline. And much more. It has transformed my life. (Sorry this sounds like a gushing testimonial. But it’s entirely true.)

    1. This is the most important use of the technology. But even in my suburban home it means I no longer miss calls because I’ve moved my phone a metre or two from a spot where there is better reception.


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