EE has announced it will be offering its customers the option to make voice calls and send text messages via wi-fi connection; a unique service certain to enhance competition among network providers.
The service means that customers who lack network signal in more secluded or ‘dead-spot’ areas of the country will be able to use their phone to communicate as normal if there is a wi-fi hotspot nearby. It is expected to be rolled out as soon as later this year.
Many customers that live or work in remote or rural areas of the UK are often inhibited from making voice calls and sending text messages until they leave the so-called ‘not-spot’. It is only after they come out of this not-spot that they are usually bombarded with a series of missed calls, voicemails and text messages.
There are many apps available today that help mobile users get around this problem – such as WhatsApp, a wi-fi enabled instant messaging service, and Skype, which lets users make voice and video calls over the web.
However, this is the first time that customers on any mobile phone network will have been able to perform more traditional communication functions using the power of wi-fi alone. EE also claims that the clarity of wi-fi voice calls will be superior to that of the usual network, and much more reliable than using a third-party app.
Of course, there will be some areas of the country that don’t have as great a need for the new service, and so may have to wait a little longer before they have access. EE’s director of network services explained that the voice-over wi-fi will be primarily aimed at areas not currently well served by 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
He said, “I’m confident I run the best mobile network in the UK, but equally I can’t cover everywhere. So part of voice-over-WiFi is prioritising the customer experience.”
EE will be testing as many public wi-fi hotspots as possible over the coming months to ensure that only networks capable of running the service smoothly will be able to offer it.