Wi-Fi calling not a priority for AT&T, will roll out in 2015

Carrier sees feature as complement to cellular

iOS 8 Wi Fi calling

Thanks to this week's Apple media event, all eyes are now on carriers around the globe to deliver Wi-Fi calling, one of the much-hyped features of iOS 8 that remains a T-Mobile exclusive in the US for now.

Light Reading today reported that second-placed US carrier AT&T is planning to follow T-Mobile's lead by offering Wi-Fi calling for smartphones, but plans to take its sweet old time actually getting around to it.

During a speech at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference on Friday, AT&T President and CEO of Mobile and Business Solutions Ralph de la Vega explained why the carrier is in no rush to deliver such an alternative to traditional cellular voice calls.

"We're very focused on making sure it's a great experience for customers, but we see it as a complement, not a replacement. We feel good about a great nationwide network with unlimited talk and text," de la Vega remarked.

Magenta leads the way

With the largest coast-to-coast Wi-Fi network among US wireless carriers, AT&T doesn't intend to roll out Wi-Fi calling until sometime next year, despite having just racked up a record number of iPhone 6 preorders today.

Between the carrier's existing unlimited talk plans and an ongoing push towards voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), AT&T wants to make sure Wi-Fi calling will offer "a great customer experience with no dropped calls" before rolling out such a feature to its customers.

That gives rival T-Mobile US a leg up for now, with this week's plans to provide Wi-Fi calling to customers as a temporary stopgap in areas where indoor coverage is weak or nonexistent on the carrier's burgeoning LTE network.

In the US, T-Mobile is the only carrier to embrace Wi-Fi calling on the latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models, a feature which has long been available on a variety of smartphones running Google's Android operating system.

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