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    EE offers wi-fi call back-up service

    This is a discussion on EE offers wi-fi call back-up service within the General chat forums, part of the Community channel category; EE offers wi-fi call back-up service - BBC News EE is to begin switching some of its customers to wi-fi ...

    1. #1
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      EE offers wi-fi call back-up service

      EE offers wi-fi call back-up service - BBC News
      EE is to begin switching some of its customers to wi-fi enabled calls to help combat mobile signal dead spots.

      The UK network suggests the move will particularly benefit people who fail to get a connection or experience dropped calls in their homes and offices.

      Other firms already offer a similar service via apps, but EE says its scheme is "seamless" as users are not required to do anything to switch between 3G/4G and wi-fi.

      However, there are potential pitfalls.

      EE said its Wi-fi Calling facility would initially be limited to pay monthly subscribers using Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S5 phones and Microsoft's new Lumia 640, although the BBC understands the iPhone 5S and newer Apple handsets will also be supported.

      Since it requires specific mobile data components to be built into the devices, it cannot be extended to other older models. However, EE said it would soon offer a compatible own-brand budget smartphone.

      To join the service, users send the firm a single text message.

      "We have worked more than a year to make sure that everything works like a normal phone connection," Olaf Swantee, EE's chief executive, told the BBC.

      "So, the ringtone, the voicemail, the quality of the conversation - all of that is exactly the same with our solution.

      "I think that's essential as customers don't have the time to figure out whether they should be using an app.

      "They want to simply know the network will switch from one technology to the other without customer intervention."

      He added that he expected five million people would be able to use the service, which also supports text messages, by the summer.

      Even if a personal wi-fi network is used, the phone's owner will still be billed as if they had made the call in a normal manner. Furthermore, they cannot use it to make cheaper calls from abroad.

      But one industry watcher said the scheme still had appeal.

      "One of the complained about factors with mobile phones is just making a voice call, and perhaps an approach of getting the fundamentals of connectivity right can act as a differentiator for the firm," said Kester Mann from the telecoms consultancy CCS Insight.

      "Vodafone will also be launching a similar wi-fi calling service in the summer."

      The UK's other two leading networks, O2 and Three, offer apps instead: Tu Go and Three inTouch.

      Third-party services, including Skype, Whatsapp, Viber and Apple's iMessage, also provide ways to make voice calls over wi-fi.

      Settings menu


      One of the limitations of EE's Wi-fi Calling is that it cannot switch from one service to another mid-call.

      So, if someone walks out of a wi-fi covered zone into an area where there is 4G coverage, or vice versa, they still face their call suddenly ending.

      EE is marketing the service as a way to make calls in the home or office, where it believes this is unlikely to be a common problem.

      It also boasts that it will make it easy for people to make and receive calls on London Underground platforms, and other wi-fi enabled places without network coverage.

      However, it acknowledges that users many need to manage their experience.

      Because phones will automatically switch to wi-fi where it is available, if users log into a congested hotspot they could face poor call quality. They would then need to go into their settings menu to temporarily turn off the wi-fi connection or Wi-fi Calling facility to opt back into 3G/4G.

      "It's going to depend on the quality of the public wi-fi, and if that's a poor quality service in a coffee shop, shopping centre or wherever, that will be a challenge," said Mr Mann.

      "It's very much tailored to the private wi-fi that people have in the basements of flats, rural homes and other places with poor mobile coverage."

      Takeover talks


      EE recently beat other networks in terms of average 4G download speeds and the number of UK premises with coverage, in a study carried out by the regulator Ofcom.

      The company - which is currently owned by Deutsche Telekom and Orange - is in the process of being taken over by BT, which plans to let customers boost reception within buildings via a separate technique involving additional radio spectrum that it owns.

      There is, however, opposition to the acquisition.

      Consumer rights advocate Which? has written to Ofcom highlighting that the two firms have fared poorly in customer satisfaction surveys, and suggested that the merger could exacerbate the situation.

      However, Mr Swantee insisted customers would benefit from the tie-up.

      "The purchase of EE for 12.5bn is very much going to further innovation," he said.

      "In-market consolidation can really help to drive investment.

      "And when you look forward to technologies like 5G - which we will get in 2020, maybe - they require incredible investment."


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    3. #2
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      Re: EE offers wi-fi call back-up service

      The switch to/from cellular will start to work fully once EE launch VoLTE (calling on 4G) later this year as that uses the same IMS protocol.

      It does annoy me though when the article mentions being able to now make calls on WiFi in tube stations. Take the US where every network already offers a fully working cellular service in most (if not all) their subway/tube stations in major US cities. I was in Washington DC the other week and I had working cellular service in all their metro stations (even the deep ones: Ok it was only 2G in some places, but I still had a working service). UK networks should already be offering a cellular service in all tube stations in this day and age as it is. It's not like it's difficult to do, certainly in the stations as the networks just need to install small micro-cells as they do in airports and shopping centres already.

      EE, O2 and Vodafone all offer a cellular service in one of the channel tunnel lines (French networks provide service in the other tunnel) as well.

      I know Huawei did propose a cellular network system for the London tube network a few years ago (both stations and in the tunnels), but all the mobile networks deemed it too expensive!!

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      Re: EE offers wi-fi call back-up service

      I don't know how different Washington's or New York's tunnels differ from the UK, but I suspect that you are more than correct in saying that this is possible.

      If it is just down to money, then the simple truth is money talks. Of course it is just possible that they are waiting for the Government to step in and offer something better.

      In many cases though the London Tubes are possibly too noisy to hold a conversation with someone one a mobile, so is it really worth it?

      As for whether you have 2G, 3G or 4G, so long as you can speak or text, does it really matter?

      With free WiFi already being offered, sure it would be nice to have access to your own network for the Internet, but whilst we still use 2G in some parts of the country, all current phones still have to support it anyway.

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      Re: EE offers wi-fi call back-up service

      Anyone with an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5S or 5C on EE can now use the WiFi calling / texting service with the latest iOS 8.3 update with carrier file EE 19.1 released today (Apr 8th).

      Once download and installed, goto Settings>Phone>Wi-Fi Calls to activate WiFi calling.

      It works very well both on my home Sky ADSL broadband and on my corporate WiFi network at work.

      (You will have to sacrifice iPhone Cellular calling though, the service introduced in iOS8 where you can use your iPhone to make calls via other iOS devices and Macs that use the same AppleID. WiFi calling turns this off, though you can turn WiFi calling off to use this if required)

      You can see when WiFi calling is active as the 'EE' network name changes to 'EE WiFiCall' at the top of your home screen:
      Attachment 5706

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