Vodacom’s been talking about adding WiFi calling to its list of customer conveniences since late last year as it readied to launch Voice over LTE, and though slightly delayed, the feature is now ready to launch.
Vodacom has perfect timing as we’ve put the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 edge behind us. These flagships, alongside Microsoft’s Lumia 640, are a few of the first phones capable of using the feature, though it’ll become available to a slew of compatible handsets “in the coming weeks.” You may be wondering why so few devices are supported at launch, and the answer lies in how Vodacom has implemented WiFi calling on its network. Where MTN – and other service providers – has created smartphone apps that let their customers make calls over WiFi, Vodacom’s solution is completely seamless. No intermediary app is needed, meaning you’ll be able to make and receive calls and texts over WiFi as you would normally, using your phone’s regular dialer and messaging app. Provided you’re a contract customer on luanch, that is, since the feature’s not available to pay-as-you-goers yet.
Taking a no-app approach isn’t without its limitations, however. For starters, your handset must have baked-in support for WiFi calling, though plenty of devices do have the necessary internals. Furthermore, the feature will only be available to Vodacom-issued smartphones, since the carrier needs to have a hand in your device’s update cycle to communicate the necessary tweaks that enable WiFi calling. At this point, we know Vodacom can do this for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones, but there’s no word on Apple devices, which are all updated without carrier intervention. Since the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6 and 6 Plus all support WiFi calling, though, we’d be extremely surprised if Apple wasn’t working with Vodacom to get the feature up and running on its hardware in the near future.