Anybody else wondering why Ting is charging for Wifi calling?

My boy's been asking for an iPhone 6. I was going to get him one when Ting turns on GSM next month. I have blocked Texting and Data since I've been with Ting. But I was going to start allowing data for his iPhone 6. I keep seeing commercials about Wifi Calling. So I figured when he's around the house he'll be using the Wifi. And when he's out and about on cellular my bill will go up some from his data usage but I was willing to compromise.

Now I hear from ting they are charging regular minutes for Wifi Calling. When he's sitting at home iMessaging a friend, Ting is going to charge me for that even though he's not using their network. Seems crazy to me. It's these kinds of billing shenanigans that have kept me off smartphones.

I'm offering this for discussion because I was really surprised at this policy from Ting. Up until now I've found the company pretty agreeable. But charging for Wifi Calling is going too far. I don't see how the policy will help them keep/gain customers either.

I was interested in what the community thinks about this. My wife also wants an iPhone, so I was thinking of moving the whole family over to T-Mobile where I can get rollover data and free Wifi Calling. Currently I have the family on "dumb" phones. And ting's been great for this. But it looks like if we go smartphones it's not a good move sticking with Ting. I wanted to be able to use the phones on cellular when we go on vacation or need to make calls when we're away from the house. So I'm thinking I should just switch providers. What do you think of this policy?

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  • If Ting charges customers for Wi-Fi calling, it means their GSM partner is charging them.  My understanding of the GSM partner's (presumed to be T-Mobile) Wi-Fi calling is that the implementation still uses the GSM network.  The only difference is that the first handoff to the network comes via Wi-Fi instead of using the normal GSM radio within the phone.  That use of the network is how they know you made a Wi-Fi call, when it happened, the duration, etc.  If Wi-Fi calling completely bypassed the GSM network, they would have no way of knowing the call was placed and would not be able to charge you.

    I think many folks are confusing VOIP (voice over IP) with Wi-Fi calling.  GSM Wi-Fi calling is not VOIP but those options do exist.  Maybe you can implement Skype or something similar when on Wi-Fi?

    DC

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  • Yes, Ting is in fact charged for Wi-Fi calling minutes, so Ting will be charging for Wi-Fi minutes (since Ting doesn't tend to subsidize usage or device costs).

     

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  • Also, iMessage over WiFi is not going to involve any charge from Ting or any other provider. It's a completely separate thing from carrier-provided WiFi calling.

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  • (On a tangent, I'm curious exactly what plan you found from T-Mobile that offers free WiFi Calling. The feature they advertise doesn't have any additional charge, but every plan I've ever seen from them does bill for minutes. Offering it for free would be something new, and interesting.)

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  • Kenneth, AFAIK Apple iMessage uses data to send text & pictures. This would not be charged on Wi-Fi and is completely separate from Wi-Fi calling which is using Wi-Fi for the foist segment of a cellular voice call.

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  • Thanks for all the feedback.

    It appears I was misguided in my understanding of Wifi calling. I took its meaning literally and was thinking calls could be made with the cellular radio turned off. It appears Wifi calling is actually cellular calling initiated via Wifi. So I assume for this Wifi calling to work it requires both the cellular and wifi radios to be on simultaneously? Can anyone confirm this?

    Assuming I now understand this accurately, it makes sense for Ting to charge for Wifi calling. I take issue with the industry calling this wifi calling though. It is not. A marketing gimmick by T-mobile. Even if it is free, it's not wifi calling.

    @Trevor Talbot: T-Mobile offers a $30/month 5GB/month data plan with 100 minutes of calling and a $3/month plan with 30 minutes of calling. These were the two plans I inquired extensively about. I was told by two different reps on two separate occassions that Wifi calling is "Free" and that only calls placed over the cellular network count toward the call minutes. If T-mobile is charging for Wifi calling, they are not telling this to the customers they are trying to get signed up for service. I had some long discussions and asked many questions about Wifi calling and at no time did I get the slightest hint that there was going to be any charge for such calls.

    Thanks again everybody for educating me on this. Much appreciated. I've had a good experience from Ting and was surprised to learn they were charging for Wifi calling. But if the calls are going over GSM, Ting should be charging cause it's using the cellular network. Glad I asked about this.

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  • I believe Wi-Fi calling only uses Wi-fi from your phone to send the voice call, over the Internet, to the partner's phone network where is follows on like a traditional cell phone call. The cell radio on your phone would only be used if a call was handed off from Wi-Fi to cellular due to lack of quality Wi-Fi signal.

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  • As many had already said, Wifi calling only means using Wifi to connect the call. The usage still counts towards your cellular minutes.  From Tmobile own website: 

    "  Does Wi-Fi Calling go against a customer’s minutes if they don’t have an unlimited calling plan?

    With our Simple Choice plans, T-Mobile customers have unlimited voice so Wi-Fi Calling does not impact minutes. Every customer is set up to use Wi-Fi Calling without any extra effort on their part." 

    So if you have unlimited minutes from Tmobile, *then* it won't count. How nice :) 

    I for one am looking forward to using Wifi calling because where I live, neither Tmobile and Sprint gets good coverage. So Wifi calling allows me to actually hear the conversation (and be heard!) while using those minutes. 

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  • There is a third option, although it's slightly less convenient. Download a VOIP app to your smart phones. The one I use is https://ring.to/ (someone already mentioned Skype; that would also work, and there are others as well.) When you're connected to the internet via wi-fi, turn off the radio on your phone and make your calls using the VOIP application. You may need to just toggle this manually, or you might be able to find an app to handle it for you. The biggest disadvantage is that you need to set up call forwarding from the VOIP to your cell for when you aren't on wi-fi; or maintain two phone numbers. I chose the dual-number route because it works best for my setup. I've been using a dumb phone with Ting, but picked up a Coolpad Arise for $10 on sale at Dillon's (Kroger). Unfortunately Sprint won't let Ting active that phone because it's "too new", so rather than toss it into a drawer I use it with VOIP when I'm at home and use my old dumb phone when I'm not at home. I'm willing to put up with a little inconvenience for not having calls I make at home go onto my Ting bill. And it's really not all that complicated. When I get home, I switch off my dumb phone, put it on the charger, and pick up my smart phone. When I go out, I reverse that. When I get around to buying a smart phone that's Ting-compatible, I won't even have to do that - just toggle my phone's radio.

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  • If you turn off your radio, you cannot receive phone calls on your Ting number.

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  • The purpose of T-Mobile's "Wi-Fi" calling is to allow phone calls when in areas of poor signal quality and was primarily implemented due to poor T-Mobile cellular signals while inside buildings.  Some frequencies just don't penetrate buildings as well as other frequencies.  The Wi-Fi calling implementation takes the phone call and routes it through T-Mobile's cellular network (ie over their servers and switches).  It's basically treating a Wi-Fi network as a mini cell tower in the first link of the phone call.

    DC

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  • I would add that this is only for supported phone models.

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  • @Clement Barrera-Ng: well this is not what I was told. If you read the posts I've already made you will see this does not comport with what I was told. The $3/month plan I mentioned obviously does not include unlimited calling. And neither does the $30/month plan. And yet I was explicitly told Wifi Calling is free. I reiterated to make sure there was no misunderstanding and two different reps told me it was free.

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  • Ting only charged because they are charged by their partner. That is why when you call another Ting phone on your account, the minutes count against both devices.

    From https://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-9997

    How are calls and messages over Wi-Fi Calling billed?

    For Simple Choice Plans, Wi-Fi calling uses monthly plan minutes for the following:

    • Calls made from the US to US numbers
    • Calls made from the US to international numbers (subject to international rates)
    • Calls made from outside the US to US numbers (not charged roaming)
    • Calls made from outside the US to international numbers (subject to international rates, but not charged roaming). You must disable Data Roaming when traveling internationally to avoid incurring data roaming charges.

    Hmmm. this seems to contradict an earlier posting,. My link was last updated in Feb 2015. T-Mobile previously had a Wi-Fi calling service usong VoIP that had a surcharge for unlimited minutes. The VoIP service was discontinued several years ago.

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  • @Bruce Osborne: Yeah, T-Mobile is all over the place on this. I'm guessing their reps are giving out inaccurate information. It seems doubtful to me that T-Mobile would publish inaccurate information. Anybody here have any direct experience with T-Mobile wifi calling?  Care to chime in?

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  • My understanding with WiFi calling is that just the first link is different. A normal call follows this path:

     

    cell phone --> cell tower --> backhaul to cell provider (Sprint, in the case of Ting CDMA) for verification of an active number then routing --> off to the destination

    A WiFi call would simply replace the cell tower with the internet, but it replaces the tower with internet, but it still goes through sprint:

    cell phone --> internet --> cell provider (for same purpose as above) --> off to destination

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  • Wow!  I'm sure confused.  I am still on Verizon - 20 plus years.  I recently moved my daughter's phone over to Ting.  Having been with Verizon, my understanding of Wi-Fi has always been that if you have an Internet provider for your computers, smart televisions, and other devices.  This Internet provider is typically your cable provider.  So, when you get your cable service installed, if you want the internet also, you will get Wi-Fi too with the package.  I have always gotten it installed in my home this way.  So, on our smartphones, we make sure that we keep our phone settings with Wi-Fi on. We also sign onto Wi-Fi networks anyplace we go that has it available, e.g., McDonald's, doctor's office, hosital, and on and on.  Wth these settings on, our smartphones automatically go through Wi-Fi for internet connections.  I had NO idea that phone calling on our cell phones was going through Wi-Fi.  Wi-Fi, to me, was always a data saver for the data billed on our cell phones, like when we browse the internet, listen to internet radio stations, shop online, etc.    Any comments on what I've said here? 

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  • Margaret,

    How do you know your phones are using Wi-Fi for calling?  I wouldn't assume they do based on the discussion in this thread.  Wi-Fi calling is a feature that must be implemented by the network provider and on the phone itself.  The last word I heard about Verizon was that their Wi-Fi calling service would not be available until the middle of this year and that you would need specific phones to be able to use it.  I think your last sentence assessing Wi-Fi is still the correct one for you.

    DC

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  • I don't have a problem with Ting charging for WiFi calls since their rates are fraction of what the big 4 charge. T-mobile doesn't charge but they also have unlimited calling. The main benefit of calling over WiFi is you get a clear connection if you live in a fringe area where cell signals are weak.

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  • The best way to save money if you are on a wifi connection is to use an alternative dialer like Skype/Google Voice. To get this for incoming calls, then go the Google Voice route. If you go that way, you'll only ever pay for megabytes, not minutes. This is great if you are near a free wifi-hotspot (like at home or work). A secondary benefit of google voice is that it has a global spam blocklist + personal blocking.

    Not asked in the question, but is absolutely relevant way to circumvent the problem you're facing.

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