Many South African mobile customers have faced that moment; you arrive at your favourite out-of-town holiday spot and you have weak cellphone signal or you find yourself in an office basement trying to make a call but concrete walls block out your signal all together.
Because mobile signals work using radio waves, thick walls can prevent signals from reaching your handset.
Cell C, as the first cellular provider in SA, is joining major international mobile operators around the world, including Sprint, T-Mobile US, Orange UK, to tackle this problem with a new service called Wi-Fi Calling.
“Wi-Fi access is becoming more pervasive, with now tens of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots around the country, including those in homes, hotels, lodges, offices and restaurants, Wi-Fi Calling has become an excellent means for operators to deliver an even wider coverage option to customers,” says Cell C CEO, Jose Dos Santos.
With Cell C’s Wi-Fi Calling, customers can turn any one of these Wi-Fi hotspots into their very own Cell C base station to make calls, send SMSs, check voicemails and balances and even buy bundles. Now, customers can choose how they connect no matter where they are – whether they are at home, at the office, on holiday in the bush, or even in a Hotel in Amsterdam.
Cell C’s Wi-Fi Calling service is integrated with phones that support the service. This means that customers will still use their phone number, use their handset, as they would have when making a standard call, sending a regular SMS or even using the USSD menus. There is no need to download Skype or WhatsApp to make Internet-based calls.
“WhatsApp and other over-the-top applications that allow for Internet-based voice calling are also not always well suited for the business environment, since most of those applications have a more social connection requiring users to all have the same application downloaded and be loaded in the contact book. With Wi-Fi Calling, customers can receive the benefits of additional coverage with Wi-Fi access, while still maintaining a professional profile by making and receiving calls from people perhaps not listed in their phone book,” says Dos Santos.
Where Wi-Fi Calling really shines is for the international traveller. Where traditionally, customers wanting to stay in touch while overseas would have had to activate international roaming and pay the high roaming charges for incoming and outgoing calls and messages, they can now simply ensure that Wi-Fi Calling is active.
Once connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot in a hotel or café, they can make and receive calls and messages exactly as though they were in South Africa and at the same rate they would pay as if they were in South Africa. Also unlike international roaming, Wi-Fi Calling does not charge customers for incoming calls.
Customers using Wi-Fi Calling will be able to use their bundled contract minutes, or even their prepaid airtime to make calls or send SMSes. Cell C has even created a Wi-Fi Calling bundle that allows customers to not only benefit from reduced rates, but also keep their regular contract minutes.
“It’s an innovation that benefits Cell C’s customers here and abroad, and also helps customers avoid travel-bill shock,” says Dos Santos.
Already, Cell C has 19 handsets that support this service. Cell C is also the first and only operator in Africa to launch this service on the iPhone, a popular device used by businesspeople in the country.
All handsets that support this service include: AG Style, Cell C Empire, Cell C Extreme, Huawei Y6, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, Phone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, Samsung Note 5, Samsung S6 Edge, Samsung S6 Edge Plus, Samsung S6 Flat, Samsung S7, Samsung S7 Edge, ZTE Blade V6 Lite and ZTE Blade V6.
To enjoy Cell C’s Wi-Fi Calling benefits, visit www.cellc.co.za or go into your nearest Cell C store to find out which phones support this service and how you can get set up.