AT&T (NYSE: T) today launched Wi-Fi calling on the LG G4, marking the first time its Android customers will be able to access the feature. The offering will be extended to other Android devices "soon," AT&T said.
Subscribers with the G4 will get a notification asking them to install a software update that will enable them to make and receive calls and text messages over Wi-Fi. The offering is available only to postpaid subscribers.
"Wi-Fi calls are billed based on the number you are calling or messaging," wrote Bill Smith, president of technology operations for AT&T Services, on the company's blog. "It's the same no matter where you're connected to Wi-Fi. For instance, making a call on your U.S. number to another U.S. number is free of charge, even if you are overseas. You can use Wi-Fi calling in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as most international countries."
While some carriers once viewed Wi-Fi calling as a threat to the cellular revenues on which their business models are built, they're increasingly seeing the technology as a way to enhance their services and improve coverage while offloading traffic from their networks. T-Mobile was an early leader in Wi-Fi calling, launching the service in 2007, and the carrier last year said 7 million of its customers were using the feature.
AT&T has been slower to embrace the technology, though. The carrier last October received a waiver from the FCC on its rules for the hearing impaired that it said were prohibiting it from offering Wi-Fi calling services, and a few days later it launched Wi-Fi calling support on newer iPhones. Earlier this year both AT&T and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) began offering international Wi-Fi calling to their iPhone customers through Apple's iOS 9.3.
- read this AT&T blog post
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