Can’t Get Wi-Fi Calling on Cellcom Phone

If you have had problems with broken voice connections on Cellcom, you’re not alone. This can happen on any mobile phone even if you are within a mile or less of a cell tower, especially of you are inside a metal building or below grade, perhaps in a basement rec-room or office. It’s for this very reason that all standard mobile phones have a feature called “Wi-Fi Calling”. This allows a phone that is in a dead spot for cellular coverage to operate properly using a nearby Wi-Fi signal. Its a standard setting on 99% of modern cell phone devices. See below for how to find it on Android 7 devices.

Broken Cellular Call Connection:

A few months ago (March 2018) I was talking with a client who said my call was really breaking up badly. I hung up, did a quick check online to see if Samsung’s S7 running Android 7 supported Wi-Fi calling, which it most certainly does. Here is link on how to setup wifi calling on your Android phone from Cellcom’s competitor T-Mobile. Here’s the short version:

Android 7.0 Nougat

  1. From any Home screen, tap the Apps icon.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Connections.
  4. If necessary, slide the Wi-Fi Switch right to the ON position.
  5. Tap More connection settings.
  6. Tap Wi-Fi Calling.
  7. Select one of the these options:
    • Wi-Fi Preferred
    • Cellular Network Preferred
    • Never use Cellular Network

You Won’t Find the Wi-Fi Calling Option on Cellcom Phones

Back when I was having the connection issue, I found the setting on my phone and switched it ON. This immediately cleared up the call with my client. However, if you now check your Cellcom phone, you won’t find the Wi-Fi calling option. It appears to have been removed, at least from my phone. So why would Cellcom not allow this common feature? If you think about, it makes perfect business sense for Cellcom. If you are on Wi-Fi , you are not using mobile data and you are not using their call system…and if you go out of the area, they might loose the roaming fees. I found this out the hard way last year when I traveled out of the area and got dinged $1.25 per minute and $1.50/Mb on roaming charges.

Likewise, once you are away from any Wi-Fi hot spots, your data plan will get wiped out in no time.  In my case, this amount to $15/Gb in data overage fees.
So, disabling Wi-Fi Calling makes perfect business sense for Cellcom. However, It’s not so great for you.

Cellcom’s Support is No Help

I contacted Cellcom to ask why this feature was not available. The person I talked to was also wondering why it was not available. He pulled out an identical Samsung S7 running Android 7 and he had the same problem, no Wi-Fi calling setting.  You would think their own support people would be able to answer: “nope, that’s not available and never has been”. He continued to scratch his head and said he’d call or email me back ASAP.

The “Official” Finding?

A few hours later he called back and his reply was incredible – he really gave it the college try – here is the message transcript verbatim:

“Hi this is (name redacted to protect this poor low level support guy who is clearly over his head and poorly informed by Cellcom) from Cellcom, I just wanted to give you a quick call back, I was looking into it a little further to see what I could find in regards to that Wi-Fi calling on the phone, um so it looks like it was kind of a couple of different things that may have happened here…so I was able to find it on an older version um with the operating system it looks like with the newest version that they may have gotten rid of it (wrong) but it looks like that it was um possibly gotten rid of due to um a Cellcom update that we um requested necessarily, um so it’s something that our network, um we’ve been having difficulty with supporting? ah any kind of a Wi-Fi ah calling at this point in time, so it’s something that we are currently not offering on our devices?”

So with the update that you received it was something that was removed from what I’m seeing here anyway, um so just to kind let you know that it was kind of a two pronged um thing that looks like happened, but it was on our request um because of the issues that we were running into. So um at this point in time it’s not going to be a feature ah currently available on any of the phones um that we offer um going forward depending upon with network um you know increase maybe to the um 5G service or you know as we’re improving  the towers and the capability, something that would be able to possibly happen? but as of right now at this point in time, um something that you will not see ah going forward ah as of right now, so, I do apologize about that news, but I wanted to give you a call back to let you know, so thank you again for your time today and have a great rest of your day, ok? bye.”

Thank You for the Truth!

You gotta love this kid’s candor! I do have the exact message save in my audio vault. I’m pretty sure, Wi-Fi calling has NOT been removed from the Adroid 7 OS. I’ve never heard of anything so amusing as to Cellcom’s system not being able to handle Wi-Fi calling. It worked great a few weeks ago.

There’s more…

Since I initially missed the tech’s return call, and the message was lost among several others, I called Cellcom back the next day to see if I could get an update from another tech. This time the tech was ready and immediately spit out the “nope, that’s not available and never has been” answer. I then asked about any possible solutions and was told that I could buy a signal booster for $549. Once I balked at that “solution”, I asked about my contract expiration date and informed him that this would be the major factor in my decision to renew.

He then sent me to the customer retention department who read me a pile of boiler plate platitudes then promised to get back to me soon. Again, urgency is not their bailiwick, and I was told “well, because it’s Friday (10am) you probably won’t hear from us until next week”. Gotta love their dedication to customer service. I’ll report on what they tell me next. All I can take from this Wi-Fi calling debacle is that a better slogan for this company would be “we’re not very good, but we’re slow”…rather than “clearly the best”.

Finally, an Official? Reply:

Today I received a call from Cellcom’s customer retention department. Can you guess their reply? The claim they NEVER supported Wi-Fi calling, although a bout a month ago that setting WAS on my phone and I set it to ON. They claimed the setting never existed on my phone. This reply clashes with the initial reply from their phone tech support guy, who claimed they recently removed the Wi-Fi calling feature by special request.  Again, who do you beleive? I tend to believe the clearly honest reply from the phone support tech who appears to have actual dug internally into the issue. Once again, this is another reason not to renew my contract with Cellcom when it comes due.  I can’t tolerate companies that can’t deliver congruent support replies.

What Can You Do?

The first step is to determine your contract renewal date. Then write it down on a post-it note and be sure to find a new wireless provider before that date. I personally do not sell wireless services, but I do recommend Spectrum internet for the Wi-Fi part and who has been rumored to be launching wireless cell plans in 2018.

The second step would be to consider joining a class action filing to force Cellcom to enable the Wi-Fi calling feature, which seems to be motivated purely by protecting their profits over usability. We are looking into this option with a local attorney, so stay tuned or make a comment of our support forum Cellcom topic if you are interested in joining a possible  class action filing.

Buying a Third Party Samsung S9 Cellphone

Currently, a Samsung S9 purchased as part of a cell phone plan will cost about $30/month. Over a two year contract, that’s $720. Here are some models to save money.