What is voWiFi (or WiFi Calling) and how does it work?

What is voWiFi (or WiFi Calling) and how does it work?

There are cases where the phone signal falters or is even absent, not allowing us to make calls to other devices. Have you ever thought about the possibility of making calls with your mobile number while taking advantage of the stability of a home fixed network?

With voWiFi technology, which has finally landed in Italy too, you will have one more tool you can exploit in case of no phone signal.

--> Freepik

What is voWiFi?

Back in 2014, the first voWiFi calls (or Voice over WLAN or WiFi Calling, if you prefer) were implemented in America. This technology allows mobile telephone operators to route calls via a Wi-Fi connection rather than using the GSM broadband signal antennas.

voWiFi technology allows telephone operators to reuse the security mechanisms in place with the use of SIMs, simply by exploiting a different means of routing calls, i.e. a Wi-Fi internet connection.

--> Since this method is based on recognized standards, for years many countries around the world have allowed its use but here in Italy this has only been possible for a short time due to a series of regulatory and bureaucratic reasons.

In December 2022 WindTre and TIM announced that they had finally introduced voWiFi technology in Italy as well. All consumers in possession of a SIM belonging to one of these two operators can therefore currently take advantage of this additional service, simply by connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The advantage of using this type of connection lies in the the fact of being able to make calls and be traceable even when the cell phone signal coverage is not the best, or even absent. Unfortunately, however, the big limitation in our country is given by the type of fixed line we will rely on.

Regardless of the architecture of our line (FTTx or ADSL), both operators require a line from the same company. If you have WindTre on your smartphone you will need to have a WindTre landline with WiFi hotspot available, and so on also in the case of TIM. For the avoidance of doubt, WindTre mobile users cannot use TIM fixed lines and vice versa. The support extends to the virtual operators of both companies according to the same operating rules.

How does voWiFi work?

--> Like for VoIP calls, voWiFI uses an internet network for sending and receiving data packets that contain the voice information of users in telephone conversations with each other. Thanks to the association of IP addresses, it will be possible to exchange data between two devices. With VoWiFi technology, the telephone operator, in our case TIM or WindTre, recognizes the packets routed on its fixed internet network and gives them priority in order to optimize the quality of the service.

Even if in Italy the service is limited to the lines of the same operator, this technology from a technical point of view would have no problem interfacing on networks of different operators. In this case we speak of Untrusted WLAN, as the packets of a hypothetical operator, before reaching its servers, transit through a portion of the network over which the mobile operator cannot exercise any control. However, this does not happen in Italy given the limits imposed by TIM and WindTre. In this case we speak of Trusted WLAN  since the data is managed entirely on the network of the same operator, starting from the mobile device up to the servers that will have to manage the data packets to be sent to the interlocutor.

The The reasons for this choice are bureaucratic as well as technical. Just think of the anti-terrorist and wiretapping regulations that Italian companies have to comply with in our country. By managing everything within your network, you can fully control the data that passes during calls.

Even if many Over the Top (OTT) operators, who develop applications for making calls, have for some time implemented cryptographic mechanisms to preserve the privacy of calls, these are not able to provide the same performance guarantees of voWiFi calls which are managed entirely by the operator within its own network.

One of the many advantages of calls voWiFi is represented by the possibility of increasing the life of your smartphone battery compared to the use of the GSM signal, which in some areas with little or no signal makes the devices particularly energy-intensive. Having a Wi-Fi network that is always present and with a strong signal does not force the device to carry out continuous network searches.

How to activate voWiFi on your smartphone

To activate voWiFi on your device you will need a dedicated service profile configured on your phone if it is compatible. Both in the case of TIM and WindTre, the supported smartphones are still few. However, operators let it be known that they will soon expand compatibility during 2023.

Let's take a compatible Xiaomi device for example. Simply follow the instructions below to enable the voWiFi service on the device:

Open the dialer and type: *#*#869434#*#* You will see a balloon icon appear below with the text VoWiFi Carrier check was disabled . Despite the writing disabled, this will indicate that the VoWiFi function has been activated on your smartphone. Go to the Settings > SIM cards and mobile networks menu and, once inside, activate the Make calls via Wi-Fi option. If your smartphone is a Dual SIM, the VoWiFi option will be found in Settings > SIM cards and mobile networks > SIM1 / SIM2 On supported iPhone devices, however, just follow the procedure below:

On iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular If your iPhone supports Dual SIM, choose a line (under SIM) Tap Wi-Fi calling , then turn on Wi-Fi calling on iPhone Enter or confirm your address for emergency services. Once the device has been configured, no app will be needed to use the service. The smartphone will take care of autonomously managing calls on the WiFi network when it is connected to a fixed network of the same telephone operator in the name of the same holder of the SIM.

In short, even if a few years late, voWiFi calls have finally landed in our country too. We can only hope for wider uptake and support throughout 2023.

Have you tried voWiFi calling? What do you think? Let us know below in the comments.

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