Reliance Jio's entry disrupted the telecom industry in a huge way. From offering affordable high-speed 4G data to making voice calls free for all, Jio forced incumbents to adapt to the new changes. But the freebies didn't last long as Reliance Jio made calls to other networks chargeable at 6 paise per minute. Following Jio's lead, Airtel and Vodafone Idea announced a hike in call rates starting December 1.
While a lot of users expressed their dismay over this move, Jio tried to do damage control with some recharge plans. But Airtel has another way to give users the benefit of free calls without having to avail any special plan.
Airtel's VoWi-Fi calling
Airtel is currently testing Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) across India and the latest report by ET Telecom suggests the official rollout is slated for December. The telco has completed beta trials of VoWi-Fi calling with its employees and select customers, inching closer to a wider rollout.
There's no clarity on whether Airtel's VoWi-Fi calling will be available pan-India or in select cities. But Airtel is reported to be offering the service only for select flagships like Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. More details on how the service will be rolled out and the list of eligible devices will be revealed at launch. But devices like OnePlus 7, 7T, Redmi K20, Redmi K20 Pro and iOS 12-powered iPhones all support Wi-Fi calling.
What is VoWi-Fi calling?
VoWi-Fi calling is similar to VoLTE but uses Wi-Fi connection instead of a cellular network. This service can be enabled in supported smartphones by activating Wi-Fi Calling from the settings menu. The benefit of VoWi-Fi calling is that it can work even when there is no cellular reception, but mandatorily requires an active Wi-Fi connection.
If you've used WhatsApp calling, VoWi-Fi won't be unfamiliar. But users won't need to install a separate app to make calls over VoWi-Fi. Like any internet calling facility, VoWi-Fi will use your network's bandwidth and won't be chargeable.