Here’s some good news for folks whose wanderings frequently lead them astray from strong cellular signals: Wi-Fi calling is finally coming to the Verizon network this week, albeit slowly.
Starting December 8, Verizon customers will be eligible for Wi-Fi calls if they have a Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge and use the carrier’s Advanced Calling HD voice and video calling service.
Anyone who’s eligible will be able to use the service once they receive a software update from Verizon. The company says the feature will roll out in phases beginning Tuesday. More phones, including iPhones, will get the service in early 2016.
Verizon asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to offer Wi-Fi calling back in October. Wi-Fi calling is meant to supplement Verizon’s network for those times when you can’t get a signal, such as when you’re inside a building or at a remote location. If your phone is within range of a known Wi-Fi network it will switch over to that for making calls.
Why this matters: Verizon was the only major network without a Wi-Fi calling option, following AT&T’s roll out in early October. T-Mobile has offered the service for years, and Sprint began Wi-Fi calling in 2014. Although Android phones will also benefit from the new offering, Verizon’s move is more likely about feature parity on the iPhone. Apple built Wi-Fi calling into iOS 9 and currently Verizon is the only major U.S. carrier not able to provide the service.
The technology behind your phone calls on Verizon might change, but your billing won’t. The carrier says U.S. calls over Wi-Fi will be free and international calls will still be billed an Verizon’s international long distance rates.