If you had free gigabit Wi-Fi service, would you continue to pay your monthly ISP and phone bill? That’s what a lot of New York City residents will have to decide as LinkNYC begins to replace all the old NYNEX/Verizon pay phone stations with high speed wireless kiosks across all five boroughs. In addition, the fiber-connected kiosks will provide phone calls, 911 services, touchscreen web tablets and device charging services.
LinkNYC is a project run by the city of New York and a company called CityBridge. CityBridge is a consortium of companies that includes Intersection, Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes. The business model is funded by advertising, sponsorships and partnerships. It is possible that CityBridge may end up selling anonymized usage data to other third-party companies.
The goal is to build up to 10,000 public kiosks. It will be important for users tossing their wired access services to observe best practice security now that all their private data travels over a public wireless access link. It will also be interesting to see how well the multi-gigabit performance holds up under the load of hundreds of thousands–if not millions–of New York City users.
Subscribers must first download to the latest version of the Verizon software and manually activate Advanced Calling on their phones. In addition to Wi-Fi calling, users activating Advanced Calling capabilities will be able to conduct real-time video calls, HD voice calls (higher quality audio) and six-way conference calling.
Verizon domestic Wi-Fi calls will be free but international Wi-Fi calling will be billed at normal rates. The company expects to announce support wi-fi calling for Apple iPhones and more Android phones in 2016.
This is a great service for people who spend the majority of their time in an office or in a home location with Wi-Fi services. It also a great service for younger millennial types who don’t spend a lot of time talking on the phone anyway because they are too busy texting or communicating via various social media platforms.
Freedom pop emphasizes Wi-Fi usage and then bridges the gaps by leveraging sprints cellular network. similar to Google’s Project Fi. Freedom pop and Intel are working on a new smart phone, due out in early 2016, which will bridge communications between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
Apple recently released its latest iOS 9.2 to developers which contains support for some cool Wi-Fi calling features. Apple Continuity features will allow Apple devices — Watches, Macs, iPads and iPhones — to all receive Wi-Fi calls from the primary subscriber’s phone number. AT&T is now working on what it calls NumberSync technology which will support unified Wi-Fi calling for all Apple devices.
The net net is that Apple users, now using AT&T’s NumberSync technology, will be able to make and receive Wi-Fi calls even when the primary cellular device — the iPhone — is not connected or engaged to the network.
Other wireless carriers are planning to support what is often called “twinning technology”, features that allow multiple devices to share a single number. The next frontier for twinning is to support untethered watches and automobiles.
With the big cable companies getting ready to launch Wi-Fi voice services,AT&T and Verizon have recently added Wi-Fi calling capabilities for their mobile subscribers. Each network has a little bit of a twist.
In order to use the service, subscribers must first make sure they are located in an HD Voice geography and they must then activate the feature on their iPhone. To activate the new service, go to phone settings on your iPhone and turn on Wi-Fi calling. During the setup process will need to provide an address to support 911 emergency call routing. No additional software or apps are necessary.
Verizon’s new Wi-Fi calling requires subscribers to use the Verizon Messages app on an iPhone running iOS9 to take advantage of the service. Users need to download the app from the Apple App Store and then enable Wi-Fi calling once that is set-up.
Vodafone has added Wi-Fi calling capability to its UK network. Vodafone customers can soon make calls and send texts from public or private Wi-Fi networks without having to use a separate smartphone application. Vodafone hopes that this new service will increase call quality and reach while taking pressure off of its cellular network traffic load.
There is no firm date for when the services will be available and Vodafone has not announced a specific list of mobile phone models which will be able to take advantage of the new Wi-Fi calling option. The service will also not be able to transfer an existing call from a Wi-Fi network to a cellular network. That capability will be available in the future for Vodafone customers once VoLTE technology is implemented.
The service should be available within the next few weeks for Vodafone United Kingdom customers. Subscribers will have to determine how to enable the feature with their specific handset model once it is launched.
Apple released the fifth beta version of iOS 9 operating system yesterday and it includes Wi-Fi calling for AT&T and Sprint cellular network users. This is a win-win for the wireless carriers because they are able to offload pressure on their cellular data and voice bandwidth spectrum, while at the same time providing a more balanced and reliable connection for its iPhone users. AT&T and Sprint join T-Mobile Wi-fi Calling who announced their support for the feature earlier.
Sprint is providing a Sprint Wi-Fi Calling FAQ explaining the details of its service but AT&T has yet come out with the official announcement. The Sprint FAQ includes the fact that “calling and texting* over a Wi-Fi network, your activity won’t count against any minute, text*, or data limits on your Sprint plan.”
In addition to the Wi-Fi calling, Apple also includes a new “Wi-Fi Assist” feature in the new release. Wi-Fi Assist will automatically transfer a mobile user to a 3G or 4G connection when a weak Wi-Fi signal is detected, providing a better experience for the user. Before this feature was introduced, users were required to manually turn off Wi-Fi to escape under performing hotspots or home networks. This should also help with overall stability of performance.
The beta version of iOS 9 will run through the end of the summer and a consumer version will be released in the fall of 2015.
For people looking to make cheap or free mobile voice and video calls without paying high cellular network bills there are several different options for using Wi-Fi networks. There are thousands of people a day cutting the cord of cable and satellite television providers, the same thing is happening in both the wired and wireless telecom markets.
Scenario 1: Free Hotspot Wifi Calling
There are more and more public places in coffee shops, hotels and airports where you can get free Internet access via hotspots. Once you found a free hotspot (you can use Wi-Fi Map Pro App to find them) you can use your current cell phone (turn on “airplane mode” to avoid using celluar minutes) or even an old un-activated cell phone to use applications like Facetime, Google Voice and Skype to make calls between app users. You can also use WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger to make texts.
Scenario 2: Cheap Wifi-Only Mobile Service Providers
There are now quite a few alternative mobile telecom providers who are leveraging Wi-Fi networks to lower individual user service costs. Companies like Freewheel, Republic Wireless, Scratch Wireless, FreedomPop and others use wif-only or a combination of wifi and part-time cellular to provide more economical mobile calling services. These services sometimes require you to use specific types of handsets.
Google has just announced its new mobile phone service called Project Fi. The most interesting element of Project Fi is that it attempts to manage you as a user between multiple networks, both cellular networks (Sprint and T-Mobile today) and any WiFi-based network. It has the potential to improve performance and lower the overal costs of your mobile phone bill.
Today, the service is invite only and only works with a Nexus 6 phone from Motorola. The initial price is $20/mo and $10 for each gigabyte of data you use.
So, rather than Google building out its own proprietary cellular network, they are trying to navigate you using a “network of existing networks” better than anyone else. The service attempts to connect you to whichever network has the strongest signal in an attempt to optimize your mobile phone experience.
You can save a lot of money if you offload some of the mobile voice and video calls you make onto wifi (home, work, public hotspots) instead of paying for expensive data plans or eating up your minutes or if you use your mobile phone as a wifi only cell phone. Wifi cell phones, personal/mifi hotspots, wifi device tethering, cheap skype voice/video calling, and more. Please understand that unlocking or jailbreaking a mobile phone, in most instances, will void the warranty of your unit and can trigger negative consequences with a cellular carrier contract. Any and all content on this site is for general information purposes and is not intended to be technical or legal advice.
This site helps people understand cell phones and mobile phones capable of accessing both cellular and wireless wifi networks. Cellllwifiphones.com also is for people who are looking for wifi only celll phone hints and help. Andrioid and iPhone smartphones are great but if you pay $50 – $90 a month to a cellular carrier for voice minutes and data bits, it better be worth it. Our site also helps people understand the convergence of voice and data networks. Things you can do with the latest moble phones include:
Save money with wifi-centric cellular carriers like Republic Wireless.
Save money voice/video calling using services like Skype.
Browse the web and access email faster via your mobile phone on wifi.
Stream TV or Movies to your phone or phone-connected-device.
Connect/tether your laptop, iPad, or network computer to the internet via your mobile phone.
Create a permanent wifi hotspot using devices like Novotel MiFi.
So… Free Wifi Calling, Right?
Conceptually, free wifi calling should be simple. You are already get internet bandwith at home or the office. Voice and video calling are really just another form of data. Why pay more than once for voice and video calls? Why are you paying for Internet Service (monthly $ out) and on top of that paying for mobile phone/tablet Internet Service (monthly $ out). Worse still, why are you paying landline charges (monthly $ out) for a phone on your wall. You are possibly paying three monthly bills, where "technically" you only need to pay one. Of course, the devil is in the details…
Use Facebook Messenger App to Make Free iPhone to iPhone Wifi Calls
Facebook has recently enabled its Facebook Messenger app to make free wifi voice calls between iPhone users. For years people have wondered if Facebook would deliver a mobile phone to follow Google’s lead, but now it looks like they are sticking to software.
Does Wifi Use Data on Your Cell Phone Plan?
Again, simple question… answer, unfortunately, is not as simple as you would hope. Why should a mobile phone operator be able to charge you data usage fees if you are pushing data traffic through your home network to the internet? A big part of the problem is the handset (it’s not always clear when a phone is ONLY connected to wifi) and your plan (even unlimited data plans can get dinged sometimes).
Can I Improve My Mobile Phone Voice Quality with Wifi?
There are products that can help provide better mobile phone voice quality such as the Smart Wi-Fi application from Kineto Wireless. This requires your cellular operator to have the underlying infrastructure to support it (currentlyused byT-Mobile, Orange in the UK and Rogers in Canada) The following video explains how it works.
What is a Wifi Cell Phone?
Wifi cell phones are often referred to as dual-network phones, ip phones, celfi phones, cellular-internet phones. Wifi cell phones can normally switch between conventional cellular networks and ip networks (internet protocol network) — wifi neworks are a form of wireless ip network. Most smartphones drink data, from the Internet, from a combination of three separate networks — cellular voice network (slow), 3G/4G data networks (faster) or local wifi networks (fastest).
What is a Wifi Only Cell Phone?
A "wifi only celll phone" is the Holy Grail for many people who want to use smartphones but don’t want to pay $30-$40 per month for a data plan. Wifi only cell phones are mobile phones that uses a local wifi network for data access and voice calling. Mobile phones that use wifi for everything are often referred to as "wifi only cell phones". Unfortunately, you’ll have a difficult time walking into your local cellular network retailer and asking for a wifi only mobile phone. Smartphone prices a cheap upfront (example ~$200 for iPhone) because the cell networks know you’ll be paying monthly subscription fees for both data and voice access. There are, however, some hybrid wifi-only networks like Republic Wireless (availability of the $19/mo wifi-only cell phone service seems to come and go) who are trying to popularize pushing all voice/data traffic onto local wifi networks.
Tablet computers liike the iPad and Samsung Galaxy could be considered wifi only cell phones, but they aren’t really phones. Tablets often use the same operating system (iOS , Android, etc) and some versions allow you to subscribe to cellular 3G networks for mobile data access, but they lack many basic voice calling features.
Republic Wireless Unlimited Cell Phone Data on Wifi
As mentioned above, Republic Wireless is the market’s response to expensive usage-based cellular data bills. It may be the perfect solution for that teenager going over on minutes and data volumes. They allow you to push your phone usage through a wifi network and charge you $19/mo for the services. They’ve had some ups and downs with availability (they open and shut availability of their beta service) and they were initially trying to limit usage based on "acceptable use" guidelines, but they now seem to have hit their stride.
The $19/mo service is for people who don’t care about their phone handset options (you have to use the LG Optimus S – basic smartphone), who don’t mind using Sprint as backup 3G/4G cell network, and who don’t mind paying the $200 startup cost. The service is designed for people who intend to use wifi for the majority of the traffic (home, work and hotspots) and celluar minimally when you travel in the middle. They will not allow tethering to Sprint’s 3G network. They’ll let you try the service for 30 days and refund if it doesn’t work with your network and area. Most of the forum chatter indicates that "support" is minimal via email, battery life on the phone is pushed down when wifi is emphasized, it’s tricky to keep voice calls up when moving between wifi and 3G, but for people who want a basic smartphone and limited monthly outlays it’s a pretty good deal.
Cell to Wifi Roaming Coming for the Those Who Wait
A recent PC World article (March 20, 2012) describes how the various cellular tradegroups are building a frame work for inter-wifi network handoffs — meaning, seamless moving between competitive wifi hotspots. So, just like you "roam" between cellular competitor A’s zone to cellular competitor B’s zone today, you’ll be able to do the same thing between hotspots. But just like roaming between cell network comes at a premium, nobody knows yet how the service will be priced.
Free International Calling with Rebtel
Swedish Rebtel now has apps for your pc, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows mobile phones that allow you to call app-to-app using your wifi or 3G local minutes.
How does a Wifi Cell Phone Work?
Wifi capable cell phones add a third network access method, to the already present cellular and bluetooth network capabilities. Wifi access is normally used in a home or office (where there are wifi networks present) to browse the web or access email from the mobile phone. It is a great option for people that don’t have cell coverage at their house (often rural locations) and still want to use their wiifi mobile phone. It is possible to use Skype, or other voice-over-internet-IP services, to make calls while accessing the web using a wifi cell phone. However, depending on your carrier, your phone, and your contract you may save no money (because you are already paying for a flat-rate data plan), or a lot of money (avoiding international voice calling), doing it.
Do You Really Need Unlimited Voice Minutes and Data Usage?
Lots of people opt for "unlimited everything" when they sign up for their iPhone or Android smart phone and end up with an $85/mo bill. They don’t want to bother with worrying whether they’re going to go over voice or data limites and trigger very expensive overage charges. There are plans available that can get you in the neighborhood of $30/mo if you keep your data usage to around 5 gigabits a month.
Does Wifi Calling Count Against My Minutes Plan?
T-Mobile offers a wifi calling feature that lets you make wifi calls, using your home wifi network with your wifi mobile phone, and not have the minutes count against your cell plan. There has been a lot of confusion on the T-Mobile user forums and wondering if the feature really enables people to make free wifi calls. The response for a T-Mobile representative said that wifi calling minutes would be zero-rated (their term for free) if have established the wifi calling feature. They also point out the the feature is no longer offered, so if you don’t already have it, it’s lot a very good option for free wifi calling at this point.
Why Do I Need a Wifi Cell Phone?
Maps and web pages will load much faster using a wifi network. Using mobile phone data applications (web browsing, interactive games, email, etc.) is almost always faster using a wifi network, rather than relying on the cellular network. This is especially important when doing anything with video — streaming video or audio will normally work much better over a local wifi network. Also, you can avoid dropped calls, frequently experienced within cellular networks. Wifi cell phones offer consumers greater flexibility and often cost savings.
Wifi or 3G/4G Only Mobile Applications for Android and iPhone
There are certain smartphone applications, mostly apps related to video watching or chatting, that will not let you run them unless you are connected to a 3G, 4G, or wifi network instead of a cellular edge network. Because video applications push so much data over a wireless network, they require higher speeds… technically higher bandwidth. 3G networks can push more data through them than edge networks – usually two to four times faster. 4G is faster than 3G, something on the order of 30 times faster. 4G can have speeds similar to wifi.
Avoiding Smartphone "Bill Shock" During International Travel
NPR just did a great story on how to avoid international smartphone data and voice charges, and minimize your cell phone bill when traveling abroad. They told the story about a savvy woman who understood the danger of using foreign cellular roaming providers (she had experience traveling in Germany and Spain, but was now in Japan) who accidently racked up a $462 bill because it wasn’t clear to her thel local carrier was biilling her. Here are the high-level takeaways from the article.
Try to connect to wifi and make sure your smartphone is not rolling over to a cellular network that maybe racking up data charges.
Understand your particular smartphone mechanics – often things are running in the background when you are not using it directly.
Consider purchasing a prepaid local phone in the country you’re visiting, rather than using your own mobile phone in a foreign country.
Turn off your smartphone’s roaming function so that the phone will ONLY work when you are in a wifi hotspot or wifi network.
Turn the device off completely and use only when you can tell it is using wifi.
What’s the difference between Google Voice and Skype?
Google voice and Skype both allow you to make voice over Internet calls, or VoIp calls, but there are some big differences. Google Voice is an integration platform/service — managing calls and messages between multiple telephone numbers and devices through a single telephone number. From your wifi cellphone you can use Google Voice via GMail to make free calls, but you’ll have to first install a sip client. Google voice does not natively access wifi on its own, it requires a separate app.
Skype, on the other hand is a client application that runs on your smartphone wifi, accesses its own proprietary voice over IP network that lets you make free voice and video calls to other people running the same Skype application. Skype will also let you call landline phones or cell phones, not using the application, for a small fee.
How Do You Know if Your Phone is Connected to Wifi?
As mentioned above, wifi mobile phones, can push data over a number of different networks, but it is usually difficult to see a visual indication of how much is going where. Cell wifi phones can use multiple networks simultaneously, so a single applications may be sending some data over 3G and other parts over wifi. Most mobile wifi phones have an indicator icon near the top of their screen to let you know which network you are connected to, but every handset is different.
Carriers Finally Working On Shared Data Plans
Both AT&T and Verizon have announced that they are working on "shared data plans" that would allow you to buy pool of minutes for your account and use them for multiple people and multiple devices — mix and match phones, tablets, pc’s, etc. all drawing from a single pool of minutes. This might help reduce costs for consumers in addition to offloading data traffic onto wifi networks.
New Wifi 802.11ac High-Speed Wifi Networking in 2012
Because of all the high-bandwidth needs driven by online video, new flavors of wifi are being developed. Starting in 2012, a new high-speed wifi standard, called 802.11ac, will be introduced by a number of networking hardware and software manufacturers. The new 802.11ac equipment will push data at speeds in the neighborhood of 1 Gb per second which is roughly 3 or 4 times as fast as 802.11n, the current high-speed standard. It will be backward compatible with old wifi equipment, letting you mix and match access points. There is also a new 802.11ad standard which will be even faster — multi gigiabit neworking speeds — but will not work with any existing wifi installations.
Broadcom, wifi chip manufacturer, has announced that the ingredients for 802.11ac will be available in the second quarter for manufacturers of wifi access points and routers. That means that wifi cell phone users might be able to start using the high-speed wireless networks by the end of 2012. You can keep up on all the news regarding the new faster multi gigabit wifi standard at the 5G wifi industry website.
What is an Unlocked Cell or Mobile Phone?
Most people are familiar with the little SIM (subscriber identity module) cards in GSM phones (CDMA phones are not "unlockable") that come from your celluar carrier. SIM cards provide the ability for the device, the phone, to be recognized, authenticated, and billed by the cellular carrier. You can switch celll phones by simply swapping out the SIM card. A "locked phone" will only work with a single cellular carrier — the phone and the service are "locked" together.
More and more people are finding reasons to "unlock" their phone from their carrier. Using a smartphone for US travelers going to Europe can be very expensive — data and voice network billing rates. Unlocking your mobile phone lets you use a single phone with multiple carriers or telephone numbers. It’s also popular for people traveling internationally. By unlocking your phone, you can use it with a local cellular service in a foreign country and avoid typically expensive roaming charges from your domestic carrier. If you are traveling from the US to Europe you need to make sure your phone is quadband, which will enable it to work with european GSM carriers.
What is the Difference between a "Jailbroken" and an "Unlocked" Cell Phone?
Most people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a difference. Unlocking a cell phone is essentially an agreement with the primary mobile carrier (the company the phone would be normally "locked" to) to allow different SIM cards to be used with the phone. The end result is that you can switch between providers and the price you pay for your phone will normally be higher, because you are not locked into a contract. A "jailbroken" cell phone, on the other hand, is the process of tweaking the operating system of the smartphone for the purposes of unlocking a capability that may be restricted by a carrier or an application.
Can I Receive Free Phone Calls Using Wifi on My Cell Phone?
It seems like most of the examples of free wifi calling on mobile phones involve outbound calling. There are fewer examples that allow you to receive free inbound calls on a mobile phone using a private or public wifi network. The primary requirement for doing this is that you have to have the VOIP application on your phone actually running in order to receive calls. In many cases, this is inconvenient for the user.
Wifi Calling on Android Phones Mobile VoIP
There seems to be A LOT of options for free wifi calling on the Android platform. This includes SIP cliient/applications like csipsimple, and sipdroid that work with Google Voice to make phone calls over wifi networks. There is also a simple app called GrooVe IP that people have good feedback about. Android phones on T-mobile’s network using their free wifi calling option is also popular — here is a list of tethering and wif sharing phones for T-Mobile.
Wifi Calling on iPhones Mobile VoIP
For the iPhone, a lot of people seem to be using Viber, 3CXPhone, and Wee Phone SIP, and Skype.
What is UMA – Unlicensed Mobile Access?
UMA is a technology that allows people to move between traditional cellular networks (think cell towers – GPRS, EDGE, GSM, 3G, etc) and wifi networks (think your home wireless network). It normally works automatically in the background whenever a user moves within range of the wifi network granting access.
Can I Use an Unlocked GSM Phone on Wifi?
You can avoid expensive roaming and international data plan prices by using wifi wherever possible, when traveling internationally. Many times using Skype on a Smartphone over wifi will allow you to call from a foreign country to home for free. However, some international wifi networks block VOIP calls, so it’s usually good to have a backup plan.
Can I Use My Smartphone on Wifi and NOT PAY for a Data Plan?
Smartphones are cool because they let you run applications and surf the internet, just like little hand-held computers — which is essentially what they are. In order to access the internet, most cellular networks require you to purchase what is called a data plan. A data plan normally runs between $20 and $40 dollars per month, expensive right? So why not just get a smartphone (android, iphone, blackberry, etc), not pay for a data plan (just pay for analog cellular access), and whenever you need to use the internet use your own home wifi network (which you are paying monthly for already) or your work wifi (which you need permission, normally, to access) or a public wifi hotspot (like Starbucks)?
Don’t Most Smartphones Include Internet Access?
Yes, the vast majority of smartphones include the capability to surf the web and do email. However, using a smart phone with a cellular data plan vs. using a smartphone with wifi access is different. Wifi-enabled smartphones can use applications and browsers to get to the Internet through both private and public wireless hotspots. This access is usually “free” to the phone user. If the smartphone is, instead, accessing the Internet via the cellular data network, it will probably be a slower connection and may be a chargeable event, depending on the cell phone user’s particular contract with the carrier.
Will My Voice Service Work Better if I have Wifi?
Because some wifi phones have the ability to toggle between the cellular network and public/private wifi networks, your voice service may improve in areas where your normal cellular-based calls would have otherwise dropped or degraded. The call can move be handed off to a stronger wifi signal if the celluar one is too weak.
Aren’t There Some Smartphone Apps that Are Wifi-Only?
Depending on your phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) there may be certain data-intensive applications that can ONLY be used when accessing the internet via a local wifi connection. Applications like Skype and Netflix used to be wifi only, but now they will work on either network.
What is SIP over VoiP?
SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, and it is simply a method that computer networks use to control the quality of a voice or video communication stream that requires a continuous flow of packets to avoid choppiness. VoiP is voice over IP network protocols. Typically, people looking to make free calls using wifi run a "SIP Client or application" ton their smartphone hat makes "VoiP" calls.
Can I Unlock My Smartphone and Just Use Wifi – Avoiding Cell Bills?
Unlocking your phone means removing the information that ties it to a specific cell carrier like AT&T, T-Mobile (both GSM carriers), Verizon, Sprint (CDMA carriers). If you unlock the phone you can make calls on any carrier. SIM cards are used in GSM phones, CDMA phones don’t use SIM cards. GSM phones are easier to use unlocked.
Free Wifi Calling for Mobile Phones on T-Mobile
T-mobile has a feature, for certain phones, called "t-mobile wi-fi calling” that allows customers to make cell phone calls using a wifi network that do not get counted against their overall monthly minutes limit. The feature is primarily designed to help people trying to make calls in non-coverage areas.
Should I Just Buy a Cheap Unlocked Cell Phone with Wifi?
You can save a lot of money by using cheaper cell services and making a lot of calls using your wifi network.
Can I Make Free Skype-to-Skype Calls Using Smartphones on Wifi?
If you know people who have loaded Skype on their smartphone, you can call them for free just using the web. The only issue is that you can’t call anyone who hasn’t pre-launched the app on their end. In other words, if the person you’re calling hasn’t already launched Skype and logged in on their phone when you call, it won’t work.
Free Phone Calls using Free 411 and Goog 411 in iPhone
Wifi networks are the wireless networks we normally have in our homes and the “hotspots” you find in airports, coffee shops, and sometimes airplanes. They are technically called 802.11 networks and come in “b”, “g”, and “n” flavors. Wifi stands for “Wireless Fidelity” and it’s simply a name for a private (owned by individuals/businesses) or public (provided for general use) wireless local area network (WLAN) pc (or other devices like video games or printers) connectivity, generally to the internet. The defining characteristics of wifi are that it is easy/cheap to deploy (you can set up a wifi network in your home for under $30) and it generally has a limited local reach — typically 32 m (120 ft) indoors and 95 m (300 ft) outdoors.
Why Would I Connect My Mobile Phone to a Wifi Network?
A wifi cell phone has the ability to connect to a wireless home network or wifi hotspot — in addition to the RF-based cellular tower network. It allows people to get access when they are out of cellular range and it allows cell phones to access the web/internet.
Cell Phones that Create WiFi Hotspots
There are an increasing number of phones (Palm Pre, Palm Pix, etc) that are capable of connecting to 3G or 4G wireless data networks and can then turn around and connect other devices (your laptop, iPad, etc) by creating a wifi hotspot. All your wifi devices connect to the phone and the phone gets all the devices to the internet.
How Can I Tell if My Cell Phone has Wifi Access?
According to InStat, about 16% of all cell phones in 2010 are wifi-enabled. That figure is predicted to grow to 29% by 20013. If you bought your mobile phone and weren’t paying attention to the features, you can go to the settings area to see if it lists wifi “on/off” configurations.
What’s the Difference Between a Wifi Phone and a Wifi Cell Phone?
You can buy phones for your home that use your wireless home network (or one that is created by your VoIP provider) to make voice phone calls using VoIP services Skype or Vonage — these are wifi phones. These phones may not have access to the cellular network when you travel outside your home. Wifi phones only work when you are in-range of a local wifi network or hotspot.
Can I Use an Unlocked Wifi Cell Phone to Access Web for Free?
Most GSM cell phones are sold “SIM locked” to a specific mobile carrier (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) and they are bound to that network through their SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card. Unlocked phones can access any GSM carriers that normally require a SIM card. Unlocked mobile phones are usually not tied to long-term carrier contracts and are therefore usually more expensive, read “not subsidized”. People also buy unlocked phones to avoid data plan subscription requirements and to be able to use their phone in geographic areas not covered by their billing carrier. Depending on your phone model, you could remove your SIM card and use your phone to access the web via any wifi network. You could also make voice calls using services like Skype.
Mobile Data Plan and Free Wifi Calling Confusion
There is a great deal of confusion in the marketplace regarding the use of free wifi calls using cell phones. Most carriers insist that mobile phones accessing wifi networks, will be charged against their monthly minute quota.
T-Mobile Free Wifi Calling Case Study
The video below is a VERY INSTRUCTIVE case study. The Live Alive NBC team, in Atlanta, recently looked into the cases where two people had receieved huge cell phone bills ($1,700 and $900) for what they thought was “free wifi” calling using the T-Mobile cellular network. Three, out of four, T-Mobile customer service reps told an undercover reporter that ANY calls made using wifi networks would not come out of monthly minute quota. However, when you read the online terms and conditions, the contract says, “if you do not purchase the wifi calling add-on features, all calls on any wifi networks will be charged according to your T-Mobile rate plan”. It is unclear how much extra the “wifi calling add-on features” cost.
Can I Buy a Wifi Cell Phone Without a Data Plan and Make Free Wifi Calls?
Data plans typically cost between $20 and $50, depending on which carrier you use. Some phones, like the iPhone, are currently only available via one networks (AT&T) and cannot be purchased without a data plan.
Create a Personal Wifi Hotspot Anywhere (car, beach, etc.) with Novatel Mifi
The Novatel Mifi is a cellular access point or cellular modem that allows you to connect your wifi-connectable device (laptop, iPad, etc) to the internet anywhere you can get mobile carrier service. They have recently upgraded their modems to support DLNA (Digital Living Network Allicance) compatible devices to stream tv, movies, and music more efficiently. David Pogue provides a great overview of the device below.
AT&T Wifi Cell Phone and Data Plan Summary
You can find AT&T wifi cell phones here , or you can call them at 888-333-6651. AT&T requires all wifi cell phones to be purchased with a $30/month data plan. There is a new one, the LG Arena wifi cell phone, that looks like it may be $20/mo – a $10 savings. If you were to sign-up with AT&T and wanted to use an unlocked phone, such as the Google Nexus One, you would also be required to purchase a data plan. The following are the current wifi cell phones listed on AT&T’s website:
Apple iPhone 3GS
Apple iPhone 3G
BlackBerry® Curve 8520
BlackBerry® Curve 8900
BlackBerry® Curve 8320
BlackBerry® Bold 9700
BlackBerry® Bold 9000
Nuvifone (TM) G60
HP iPAQ Glisten
Verizon Wifi Cell Phone and Data Plan Summary
Verizon requires all wifi cell phones to be purchased with a $29.99 data package, or higher.
T-Mobile Wifi Cell Phone and Data Plan Summary
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Sprint/Nextel Wifi Cell Phone and Data Plan Summary
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Sprint/Nextel Wifi Cell Phone and Data Plan Summary
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Unlocked Wifi Cell Phones
Most mobile phones come equipped with a Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card that stores user data. These cards are issued by each of the individual cellular carriers. When you get a new mobile phone, your subscriber data and stored phone listings can be transfered to the new phone by transering the SIM. A “locked phone”, is one that will only recognize a SIM card from a specific cellular carrier. By “unlocking” the cell phone, it will recognized a SIM card from any carrier.
If you buy a wifi cell phone from a carrier, it will be “locked” to their network and it will normally have to be purchased with a data plan. You can buy unlocked phones, but some carriers will require you to purchase a data plan when you do. Currently, AT&T and Verizon will require you to buy a data plan and T-Mobile will not.
Using Google Voice from Your Wifi Cell Phone Browser
You can access Google Voice for Mobile in two different ways.
Android and Blackberry Phones – download the application from m.google.com/voice.
iPhone, Palm, Nokia S60 and Windows Phones – use the web-based version at m.google.com/voice.
Once you’re logged in you can access you Google Voice account and make very cheap international calls. You can get more info here and the following video gives you a good overview of how it works.
Where Can I Buy a Wifi Cell Phone?
Almost any business that sells mobile phones, will have sets capable of connecting to wifi networks.
Wifi Phones vs. Wifi Cell Phones
A wifi phone is normally a handset that makes calls in your home using your wireless home network — the same wireless network used by your computers. Wifi phones look like regular wireless home phones and use what is called voice-over-ip protocol (VoIP) to to make voice calls via a wireless home wifi network.
Can I Make Free Calls From My Mobile Phone ?
In some cases, wifi networks can be used to make free local and long distance calls by bypassing the traditional phone networks.
Can I Make Free Calls Using My Neighbor’s Wifi Network?
Technically, it’s possible if the neighbor runs an open network and the signal is strong enough. Ethically, this is stealing someone else’s bandwith.
Email, Twitter, Instant Messanger, Facebook From Your Cell Phone
Accessing the internet from your cell phone isn’t about just “browsing the web”, it’s adding all the other communication methods you use on a daily basis into your mobile phone.
Cell Phone Web Access via Wifi With No Data Plan
There are cell phones you can purchase which will allow you to access the Internet via a wifi network, as opposed to the 3G/Edge cellular network, and you can avoid having to pay for a separate data plan. Data plans typically add $30/month to your cell bill. Each phone is slightly different but the process primarily involves disabling the TCP function, setting your browser to wifi access, and setting mobile connection
Use iPhone Wifi Web Access with No Data Plan
When you buy an iPhone, you are forced to sign up for AT&T’s 3G Network data plan. However, it is possible to buy iPhones independently and activate the phone yourself on a pre-existing AT&T cell phone account that does not include a data plan.
Skype on iPhone Only Works Using a Wifi Connection
For iPhone users, you can download the Skype App for iPhone and make free skype-to-skype calls using a local wifi network. Skype does not yet work using the cellular 3G or Edge networks, but it will soon (see news below). Here is a summary of using Skype on the iPhone using wifi access.
Skype on Verizon Phones using Wifi or 3G
Verizon and Skype plan to allow certain Blackberry phones to access Skype VOIP service via 3G and wifi networks in March of 2010.
Wifi No Longer a Threat to Cellular Operators
The Cellular network operators used to think of wifi networks as competitive category. But now, largely because of smartphones, the operators NEED wifi networks to take the pressure off their own networks. Operators will now be incentivizing the use of wifi networks for their subscribers and favoring the use of dual network devices.
Save Money By Lowering Cell Usage – Free Wifi Hotspot Calling
One of the main reasons wifi cell phones may be something to pay attention to is that they potentially allow callers to make free long-distance calls, even international calls, when using a voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) service. Also, many cellular providers may not offer direct streaming of video (movies and tv shows) directly to a subscribers phone. They may instead require the cell phone user to stream the video using a local wifi network or hotspot.
Another potential area of interest for wifi cellphone owners is the ability to make in-flight cell phone calls on airline flights, using the airline-provided wifi network as opposed to the cellular network. Currently the FCC does not allow cell phones to make calls on domestic flights, however it is allowed in Europe.
Save Money by Avoiding Cell Phone Bills Entirely – Turn your iPod Touch into an iPhone
Some wifi-capable phones are not phones at all. For instance, the iPod Touch is a handheld device capable of accessing the internet through local wifi networks in your home, office, or within hotspot areas. It looks/works just like an iPhone, except it’s thinner — which lots of people like. The iPod touch has many of the same capabilities (most of the same apps), but it doesn’t have speaker, microphone, or camera. To make iPod phone calls, you’ll need to add a touchmod mic and run the free SIP-VoIP application available for the iPhome or iPods. You don’t get a monthly cell bill using the iPod Touch over wifi networks, which is the primary expense of an iPhone. The following video shows how to make skype-to-skype calls using and iPod Touch, Skype, and an application called Truphone.
Better Connection in Your Home or Office
Many times it’s difficult to figure out which cellular operator offers the best connectivity from your home or office location. It’s annoying to get a cell call from someone and you have to move to find better reception or the call constantly drops. With a wifi connection, your call can be constant and clear. You can spend more time talking and less time searching for place that maintains your call.
Live in a Cell Phone Dead Spot? A WiFi-Capable Cellphone May Be the Answer
Cell phone deadspots are a pain. When shopping for a cellular carrier, one thing you always want to do is make sure you have good cell coverage in the areas where you spend most of your daily time. For many people, that’s basically where you work and where you live. If you end up with bad coverage in one place or the other, you can always use your wireless broadband internet connection to talk on the phone, if your cellphone is wifi-capable. So now, rather than dealing with a phone that doesn’t answer or one that is contantly dropping calls, you can use the wifi network to make/receive calls when you’re in the bad coverage area.
Wifi Smartphones Accessing the Internet
Much of the demand for wifi cellphones is coming from smartphones (iPone, Blackberry, etc.) that allow their users to browse the Internet or run applications from both cellular and wifi networks. Because some of the smartphone applications are not allowed to use the cellular network (example: streaming video applications that require large abounts of bandwidth) many require handset users to use a local wifi connection that can be provided at home, work, or many wifi hotspot areas.
What about Tablet Computers?
New tablet computers are being introduced that are hybrid combinations of a pc and a smartphone. They have many of the wifi access features of smartphones and often the dual ability to access 3G networks.
Use your Cell Phone as a Laptop Modem
Can’t find a wifi hotspot for your laptop pc? No problem. You can use your cell phone, connected to your laptop directly or via bluetooth, to access the internet to browse the internet, do your email, or run applications. All you need is a cell phone with an internet data plan and a way to connect it to your pc.
Smartphones from Apple, Cisco, D-Link, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, NETGEAR, Nokia, Polycom, RIM, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, Vocera, and ZTE are close to 15% of all cell phones sold in 2009, according to market research firm Infonetics. However, you don’t have to buy a smartphone to be able to take advantage of wifi networks on your cell phone.