On Tuesday, Apple announced a nifty iPhone feature called Wi-Fi calling, which allows you to make calls off a known wireless network instead of off your carrier's towers. But at launch, only T-Mobile customers have access to the feature. Turns out AT&T will be getting the service next year too.
Of course, Wi-Fi calling goes beyond the iPhone. T-Mo announced the very next day that all phones on its network would have access to the service. More than simply VoIP, Wi-Fi calling also lets you use your own phone number, and jumps from the carrier to Wi-Fi without missing a beat.
CNET reports that AT&T CEO Ralph De la Vega confirmed his company will offer Wi-Fi calling as an option, but that it can't right this second because the network isn't ready. AT&T hasn't launched Voice over LTE yet, which means that phone calls are still flying through the air in their traditional spectrum. According to AT&T, the seamless handoff of calls between carriers and Wi-Fi basically requires VoLTE because calls tend to drop when moving between the cellular network and Wi-Fi. Once AT&T gets its VoLTE rolling, the Wi-Fi calls will start ringing.
De la Vega says that his company's coverage is strong enough that it doesn't need support from Wi-Fi calling (yes, that's a jab at T-Mo). But it seems that Apple and T-Mo forced AT&T's hand. If the Uncarrier is going to offer the service, everyone else will have to come around, too. [CNET]