UK mobile provider EE is launching this week a WiFi calling service that will enable customers to make calls over the internet instead of using free apps such as Viber and Skype. In addition, WiFi access will now be available to EE customers on the London Underground using Virgin Media’s portal.
The service is part of a move to tackle mobile “dead spots” — areas of the country where there is little or no cell phone reception. By using WiFi connectivity to make calls, users will be able to send and receive phone calls and texts when 3 or 4G isn’t available, EE explains. The only downside is that users can’t switch from 3/4G to WiFi mid-call.
Other phone operators already offer WiFi on the Underground, but through apps such “Three inTouch” from Three and “TuGo” from O2. Vodafone will be launching a similar plan in the summer.
EE’s new service doesn’t need an app to function. It runs through the smartphone itself, which means it doesn’t take up space on your phone. There’s no extra charges, and you only need to connect to the WiFi provider once — so if you go through a certain station every day, it will connect automatically.
EE explains that customers have to register by text, open the Virgin portal page, and sign in through EE with your phone number, email, and password. At the moment the new scheme is available on the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, but is due to be rolled out to iPhone (5s upwards) users too over the next few weeks.
Currently, travellers can get WiFi access at more than 100 London Underground stations.