AT&T appears to be poised to join Sprint and T-Mobile in supporting Apple's Wi-Fi calling service. As VentureBeat noted, the fifth beta of Apple's forthcoming iOS 9 operating system offers Wi-Fi calling from AT&T. T-Mobile last year began supporting Apple's Wi-Fi calling service, and Sprint joined T-Mobile in April to support the service via a software update.
When questioned about the news, AT&T spokesman Steve Schwadron told FierceWireless, "We view Wi-Fi calling, which we plan to launch in 2015, as a complement to our great network coverage. AT&T has the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network and strongest 4G LTE signal, covering nearly 310 million Americans." Schwadron did not provide details.
Indeed, AT&T reiterated its plans to offer Wi-Fi calling in an FCC filing last month. In the filing, AT&T noted that Verizon Wireless is shifting to Voice over LTE technology, that T-Mobile and Sprint "have deployed and are widely advertising Wi-Fi calling across their networks," and that "AT&T hopes to begin to offer its own Wi-Fi calling service later in 2015."
While AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all appear to be on board with Apple's Wi-Fi calling service, Verizon Wireless remains missing in action. When questioned about Verizon's conspicuous absence in Apple's iOS 9 beta, Verizon spokesman Chuck Hamby told FierceWireless "We've previously said we'd support WiFi calling this year, and nothing has changed in that regard. We're just not ready to speak to specific devices yet."
Apple released its Wi-Fi calling service last year. It allows iPhone users to make and receive calls on Wi-Fi networks as they would on standard cellular networks. Separately, both Sprint and T-Mobile also offer their own Wi-Fi calling technology on various Android phones.
In other iOS 9 news, Apple showed off its new "Wi-Fi Assist" feature in its latest beta release. According to 9to5Mac's pictures of the operating system, Apple's Wi-Fi Assist allows users to "automatically use cellular data when Wi-Fi connectivity is poor." Such a service is noteworthy considering the growing number of public Wi-Fi hotspots from the likes of Comcast, Boingo and others. Such hotspots are often congested with a growing number of Wi-Fi users -- Apple's new Wi-Fi Assist service is clearly an effort by the iPhone vendor to address that problem for users.
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