Eir to become first Irish network to launch wifi calling

Feature allows customers to use wifi to make calls and send texts using mobile number

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge and the S7 will be the first phones to get Eir’s wifi calling at the end of the month

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge and the S7 will be the first phones to get Eir’s wifi calling at the end of the month

 

The end of roaming charges may be nigh for EU customers, but Eir is taking a further step that could cut the extra fees and also improve your mobile reception, with the launch of wifi calling.

The technology, which will be officially launched at the end of the month, allows mobile customers to use their wifi network to make calls and send texts using their mobile number. Unlike third-party services such as Skype or WhatsApp, the calls and texts are made through the phone’s native dialler and messaging systems, so the recipient doesn’t have to be signed up to a specific service, such as WhatsApp.

It is the first Irish network to roll out wifi calling, and marks another step towards the eventual introduction of voice over LTE.

Addresses issue of poor indoor coverage

“There’s no need for a downloadable client, it’s all integrated in the device,” said Sinead Morrissey, head of mobile products for Eir. “There’s no need for a separate app. It addresses the issue where you find yourself with poor indoor coverage.”

It also means customers travelling abroad can use wifi networks to call Irish numbers without incurring significant roaming charges.

However, the feature is still tied to your mobile plan, meaning any calls you make are deducted from your allocated minutes on your plan, and the same for texts.

Should you go outside your plan allowance, you are charged at your plan’s out-of-bundle rate. OTT services, which are direct competition for mobile networks in terms of voice and text services, allow users to call other subscribers to the same service free of charge once they are using a wifi connection.

Wifi calling will be available to Eir Mobile’s bill-pay customers first, with Meteor following shortly.

Phased basis

“The benefit of wifi calling is that it doesn’t use a whole lot of bandwidth, so it will work down to relatively low speeds with no issues for voice quality,” explained Fergal McCann, director of mobile networks for Open Eir.

If the wifi signal isn’t strong enough, the call will revert to the standard mobile network, with a small indicator on the screen alerting users if the wifi calling service is active or not.

Eir is rolling out the service to different phone models on a phased basis. Customers who have Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets will be first to get wifi calling when it officially launches at the end of the month.

“Samsung is the largest proportion of our base and we wanted to start with the range of devices that would give us he most reach across the base,” said Ms Morrissey. “We’re actively working with manufacturers to add more handsets to the range.”

Eir is working with the handsets that it supplies on its network, meaning customers who have moved to Eir with smartphones that are not sold by the company may not get quick access to wifi calling.