The carrier first launched Wi-Fi Calling in June 2007 and said the number of Wi-Fi calls continues to rise. Its Wi-Fi Calling plan reduces domestic and international minute usage and saves on enterprise mobility costs, T-Mobile said.
"T-Mobile's expansion of Wi-Fi Calling to Android smartphones is an excellent innovation, and part of our ongoing initiatives on behalf of our customers to enhance indoor coverage," said Torrie Dorrell, VP of connected family products and services at T-Mobile USA, in a statement. "This new execution of Wi-Fi Calling technology helps us ensure that our customers' Android-powered smartphones can keep them connected to the important people in their lives where they work, live, or play."
Wi-Fi Calling is currently available on several devices at T-Mobile, including the Nokia E73 Mode, BlackBerry Curve 8520, BlackBerry Bold 9700, and the new BlackBerry Curve 3G. The Wi-Fi Calling for Android smartphones feature is powered by Kineto's Smart Wi-Fi application and will be ready to use out of the box, T-Mobile said. It also comes with a tutorial for first-time users.
Users will be able to make voice calls and send SMS texts globally from accessible Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n access points in addition to connecting to T-Mobile's mobile network, the carrier said.
Wi-Fi connectivity is already built into several feature phones, which T-Mobile began offering in 2007, but it's new to offer it using UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) on smartphones, said Phil Solis, research director of mobile networks at ABI Research. T-Mobile is the only carrier in the United States using UMA, he said, and most carriers prefer to use SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) instead to do calls over VoIP. "UMA is an elegant solution to work in the short term, but it doesn't fit in with the long-term view that everything is going to be IP-based, including voice,'' Solis said.
T-Mobile is a big supporter of Wi-Fi usage in homes and in hotspots, he said, which is a key reason they are continuing with UMA.
T-Mobile said the Wi-Fi Calling feature will be available "in the coming months" on an increasing number of its Android-powered smartphones.