By the end of 2019, Airtel launched its Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) calling service in major cities followed by Reliance Jio, which also introduced the free Wi-Fi calling service all over India. Now, Bharti Airtel has announced that its VoWiFi service is live across the country and just like Reliance Jio, Airtel's Wi-Fi calling will also be accessible via any home or public Wi-Fi network instead of being limited to Airtel Xstream Fiber home broadband.

The announcement from Bharti Airtel comes two days after its rival Reliance Jio announced a nationwide free voice and video calling over Wi-Fi service. However, even before the two players launched their VoWiFi service, state-run BSNL had launched such service in India-- which is called Wings.

But what exactly is the VoWiFi and how does it work? Here is everything you need to know about it.

Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) and its benefits

Wi-Fi Calling is aimed at areas where cellular networks are not strong. The VoWiFi takes advantage of stable Wi-Fi connections instead of a cellular network to make and receive high definition (HD) voice calls. The Voice over Wi-Fi calling is essentially aimed at offering seamless voice calls in areas where the mobile coverage is patchy but good broadband internet connection is available. Since the call is made via a Wi-Fi network, users don't have to pay extra for these calls.

Wifi calling becomes new norm in India
Wifi calling becomes new norm in IndiaPixabay

The VoWiFi calling is similar to voice and video calls made using WhatsApp, Messenger, or other over-the-top messaging platforms. However, the VoWiFi enables call from one number to another and does not use an app to connect one caller to another, except in the case of BSNL Wings.

How to use the VoWiFi calling service

To use BSNL Wings, BSNL customers need to download the Wings app on their smart devices like smartphone, laptop or notebook. From within the app, they can make calls to people from their contact list. To activate BSNL Wings connection, users will need to register their mobile number by paying a one-time registration fee of Rs 1,099 to make free calls to any network for a year in India. For ISD calls, an additional fee of Rs 2,000 is required as well.

In the case of Airtel and Reliance Jio, no separate app is required but users need to check if their device is compatible with VoWiFi calling service. If the device is compatible, users can use the Wi-Fi calling service for both Airtel and Reliance Jio simply by turning on the Wi-Fi Calling option from the Settings menu. Good news is, neither Airtel nor Reliance Jio is charging for calls made over their VoWiFi service or demanding a one-time registration fee like BSNL.

Wifi calling becomes new norm in India
Wifi calling becomes new norm in IndiaPixabay

Compatible devices

Earlier, only 20-30 smartphones were compatible with Airtel's VoWiFi service but now over 100 smartphone models across 16 brands are compatible with the service. VoWiFi calling is compatible with phones like Redmi K20, Redmi K20 Pro, POCO F1, Redmi 7A, Redmi 7, Redmi Note 7 Pro, Redmi Y3, Galaxy M30s, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy M20, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Note 10+, Galaxy M30, Galaxy A30s, Galaxy A50S, OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7T, OnePlus 7Pro, OnePlus 7T Pro, OnePlus 6, OnePlus 6T, Vivo phones, and more including the iPhone models starting 6s.

The list of the compatible device is more or less same for Reliance Jio which includes phones like POCO F1, Redmi K20, Redmi K20 Pro, Pixel 3, Pixel 3A, Pixel 3A XL, and more including iPhone 6s and above.