Documents surfaced last week that suggested T-Mobile was going to bring WiFi calling to its Android lineup and today the wireless carrier made it official. Confirmed via press release, T-Mobile announced that the new Motorola DEFY and the updated myTouch will support WiFi calling out of the box. Other Android handsets in T-Mobile’s lineup will be updated to support this feature in the coming months. No word on whether the G2 is included in this short list but we presume it is.
WiFi calling from these Android handsets will be managed by Kineto’s Smart Wi-Fi Application. Technically covered under T-Mobile’s UMA service, the previously leaked document suggests that the Android implementation of this service will be slightly different from its current offering. Different from UMA on its BlackBerry and Nokia handsets, this Android-based service is being advertised as “WiFi-calling without hand-off”. Android handsets will be able to make and receive calls (and SMS) over WiFi but can not hand-off the call to a cellular signal when a WiFi signal is lost. Sorry, no strolling the streets of NYC talking continuously while your handset switches from cellular to Starbucks hotspot and back again.
This modified UMA service will be available from any 802.11 b/g/n WiFi access point worldwide and indirectly extends T-Mobile’s coverage to areas with poor or no cellular signal. While often considered irrelevant in this day of wireless expansion, WiFi calling from the handset is an excellent added feature for customers who find themselves in an area with WiFi but poor cellular signal. As someone who lives in a rural area, that happens to me on a daily basis. I currently use a femtocell to extend my cellular signal but this handset-based service from T-Mobile is superior as it does not require this additional and often expensive hardware. Press release is on the next page for those interested in reading T-Mobile’ s official announcement.