Friday 19 January 2018

Meteor launches new wifi-calling service for those with terrible mobile reception at home or at work

The new service will be free
The new service will be free
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

“I’m sorry, you’re fading - hold on until I move into the front room, it’s the only place with a proper phone signal.”

Sound familiar? Across Ireland, tens of thousands of homes and businesses struggle to get a proper mobile signal inside, even in areas with good mobile phone coverage.

In response, Meteor has launched a new wifi-calling feature for customers with awful mobile reception in their homes or businesses.

The free service lets Meteor and Eir Mobile customers use their own home wifi to make calls and send texts using their normal monthly allowances.

They can already do this using Facetime, Whatsapp, Viber, or a number of other free online calling services. But using a feature like wifi calling lets them make the calls on the mobile network to another mobile number, the owner of which may not use Facetime or Whatsapp calls.

Weak mobile signals in houses and workplaces is a problem that does not show on coverage maps. That’s because mobile signals fall off as they encounter walls and other obstacles. The issue is particularly acute for structures with thick partitions and in basements.

Mobile phone operators adhere to licensing conditions that require population coverage of between 70pc and 90pc. However, this is measured by outdoor signals, not indoor ones. It leaves tens of thousands of Irish homes and businesses with no mobile signal in areas of their premises.

One of the bigger advantages to the wifi-calling feature is being able to use it when abroad. While roaming costs for phone calls and texts (but not data) are being abolished in the EU from June 15th, making a call in the US, Australia or Asia can cost up to €2 per minute.

A spokeswoman for Eir said that the service doesn’t attract any charges for taking calls while using the wifi-calling mode.

The new Meteor wifi calling feature has some limitations.

The biggest one is that it can only be used on a restricted number of handsets, including most iPhones and higher-end Samsung models.

A lot of phones that would be used on Meteor and Eir aren’t compatible, such as all phones from HTC, Sony and Huawei. Even some of Samsung’s newest phones aren’t supported, such as the new A5 model.

You also have to have a Meteor-locked or Eir-locked phone if using Samsung or Android: you can’t buy your own phone and use it with a Meteor sim card. (Oddly, you can with an iPhone.)

It also goes without saying that you have to have access to a wifi service, something that’s not a given in rural areas of the country.

Even still, this type of service will be of significant value to a lot of people who are sick of having to go out into the garden to make a phone call because they can’t get a proper mobile signal inside.

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