Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) may be ready to offer Wifi calling on two different Android handsets, reports Andrew Martonik for Android Central. Martonik got a hold of training manuals that made reference to the service, though it’s not yet clear when it would be made available. Sprint would be the second major US carrier to offer the service a full three years after T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) start offering Wifi calling.
VoIP already available through apps
It might seem odd for Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) to offer Wifi calling now, when there is no shortage of voice over IP (VoIP) apps available on Android that do the same thing, and the main result is that users will be using data instead of minutes when they talk to people. Some might use Sprint’s feature because it’s conveniently already installed, but many will already know which VoIP they prefer, or will be willing to spend a little time testing different apps to figure out which on works best.
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Or they’ll just default to Skype like everyone else. With over 100 million installs, it’s the clear market leader and the best known brand among VoIP apps, and lots of people will install it as a matter of course when they get a new phone.
Sprint Wifi calling will use location services
Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) is also imposing some restriction on how its Wifi calling feature will work: users have to be in the US or a US territory and Android location services have to be turned on. Also, the feature won’t work if the phone is connecting through a virtual private network (VPN). There may be all kinds of justifications for this (apparently the training manuals make some reference to 911 calls), but in the wake of the Snowden leaks, most people will probably interpret these requirements as complicity with federal snooping.
So the question remains, why is Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) going to provide a service that already exists, with restrictions that are likely to annoy people, and which will probably reduce many people’s phone bills? The whole thing is a bit odd, but when Sprint gets around to formally announcing the new feature maybe they will shine some light on why exactly it seemed important.