Verizon asks for FCC waiver to offer native Wi-Fi Calling services

Verizon is seeking the same waiver granted earlier this month to AT&T so that it can offer Wi-Fi calling directly through the Phone app instead of its own Message+ software.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

Earlier this month, Verizon followed AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile by offering Wi-Fi calling services but with a catch: The calls can only be placed from the carrier's own Message+ app.

Now, Verizon is looking to fully catch up to its peers by requesting an FCC wavier that would allow it to provide native phone calls over unlicensed spectrum. FierceWireless noticed Verizon's request as the carrier seeks the same waiver granted to AT&T in early October.

While over-the-top, or OTT, services such as Skype and FaceTime have offered Wi-Fi calls for some time, they don't have to face all of the same FCC restrictions and regulations applied to carriers.

That's why AT&T and Verizon have been slow to provide Wi-Fi calling. The network providers are required to support TTY services for the hard of hearing and TTY isn't quite compatible with VoIP services. The waiver grants a conditional release for that requirement so that carriers can implement an IP-based solution.

For Verizon, that's likely coming in the form of RTT, or real-time text, reports FierceWireless, which says that AT&T's waiver expires at the end of 2017. Verizon is seeking the same terms, which gives it plenty of time to bring RTT to market.

It's worth noting that T-Mobile and Sprint have simply chosen not to request such waivers, which AT&T was keen to point out to the FCC. And although Verizon hasn't implemented Wi-Fi Calling yet, when AT&T did earlier this week, initial support was only made available for the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus handsets.

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