What's the difference in RW's proprietary WiFi calling/texting and current industry standards?

Can someone describe what can be expected when switching from RW proprietary Wifi calling/text to IMS? For example, Is switching over (in both directions) just as automatic once configured to use wifi?

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The biggest difference in my experience is IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) industry standard WiFi calling and text messaging is it is cell first WiFi as a backup, which is the opposite of Republic’s proprietary approach. Cell first for calling and text messaging isn’t inherently better or worse than Republic’s proprietary WiFi first approach. Most importantly, it doesn’t result in using more cell data. Cell data for apps and Internet access is still a separate thing. All smartphones (Androids and iPhones) are, by design, WiFi first for cell data.

Again, in my experience, switching or handover as Republic refers to it from WiFi to LTE (part of why one hears so much about Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is one-way. Once an in progress call started on WiFi is moved to the cellular network, it does not hand back to WiFi. I don’t rule out the possibility IMS is or will one day be capable of it but I’ve never experienced it.

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Hi @bob_442,

I’ve moved your question to it’s own topic separate from our announcement encouraging everyone to get their current plan set up like they want it. This way the conversation can get as nitty gritty as you’d like about the technology while keeping the announcement topic focused on the changes people may want to make on their current plans.

Thanks for asking such an interesting question and welcome back to our Community, it’s been a while since we’ve heard from you here,

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I’ve been using the RW (advanced) option to allow switchover TO wifi, so from my perspective, the switchover occurs in either direction.

So, with IMS, is the switchover mid-call only possible from cell to wifi?

No, in my experience, IMS is one-way WiFi to cell. Once the call is on cell, it stays on cell.

As an aside, this was originally the case with Republic’s proprietary approach as well. The ability to go in the other direction cell to WiFi was a later enhancement added by Republic.

This is not my experience. I have a Google Pixel 5a in the household that is on AT&T Prepaid. Calls regularly transition from Wifi calling to VoLTE and then back again.

Again in my experience it isn’t always this way. For instance, my factory Unlocked Note 20, with an AT&T Prepaid SIM, a Ting SIM, a Cricket SIM has, in its dialer settings, an option to make wifi calling “Cellular Preferred” or “Wifi Preferred”. So, it may depend on the handset and the carrier.

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I decided to do some testing. I do not currently have access to a physical AT&T network SIM. More on that later.

For testing purposes, I used a Mobi (Verizon network) SIM, a Visible (Verizon network) SIM and a Tello (T-Mobile network) SIM. The phones used for testing were as follows:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Note20
  2. LG K30
  3. Google Pixel 4 XL
  4. Moto G Pure (not currently Republic compatible)
  5. 2020 Moto G Stylus

The setting you mention is there on all five phones using all three SIMs. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note20 and the LG K30, the default was to prefer WiFi for calling. For the Google Pixel 4 XL, the Moto G Pure and the 2020 Moto G Stylus, the default was cell preferred for calling.

Minimally, it would seem, members would need to be aware of the setting’s existence, know how to locate it and verify a preference for WiFi calling is toggled on to get the same WiFi first experience provided by Republic’s proprietary technology. How necessary WiFi first for calling is another matter. Cellular preferred calling won’t cost more and won’t use more cell data (we do sometimes see folks conflate the two of those), just as cellular calls do not cost more than WiFi calls on Republic today.

Interestingly, the Mobi and Visible SIM’s allowed for a WiFi preference for calling only when roaming (absence of native network coverage). Apparently, this is a Verizon network thing. There was no limitation to roaming mentioned with the Tello (T-Mobile network) SIM.

Finally, though I do not have access to a physical AT&T network SIM, I do have an AT&T Prepaid eSIM downloaded to the Pixel 4 XL. The experience on the Pixel was the same for the AT&T Prepaid eSIM as it was for the Tello physical SIM.

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Thanks for the detailed testing results.

What’s it like with IMS cell/wifi switchover? With classic RW switchover, the call quality (the fidelity) is much higher when on wifi. There is a fraction of a second of silence, followed by a noticeable increase (or decrease) in fidelity when switching over to wifi (or cell). I don’t have to look at my phone to know it happened.

One interesting thing I noticed with RW while on a wifi call: when I pull the power cord on the wifi router, the call fidelity stays high for another second or two, before the the classic sounds of a switchover occur. That tells me that for that second or two, the call is 100% being carried as cell data (not 2G cell voice). The interesting about that is that it is technically possible to always carry the call as data (and not 2G cell voice), resulting in higher call quality. Maybe that’s what I can expect with IMS. I haven’t had a non-republic phone since 2013, so I’m not able to test that theory.

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From a practical point of view based on several industry reports. During the height of the pandemic with increased remote work locations the big three all relied heavily on wifi to handle increased call volume… No one complained and the blended industry standards for mobile and land based voip performed well.

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I thought that Wi-Fi first calling was one of the main things that kept Republic’s costs down, and led to the low fees for using Republic. Does moving away from this mean that Republic subscription costs are going to increase?

It certainly was the case for Republic at the beginning in 2011 and as a small operator, in my opinion, remained so. Republic never charged more for calls routed over cell but its, by default, WiFi first technology served to keep most calls on WiFi without any user intervention.

Here, we get into speculation again. I understand we all want to know what’s in the new plans and what the price will be but the reality is we’ll just have to wait and see. I do not, however, necessarily foresee a price increase. Republic’s new corporate parent DISH is a Fortune 250 company. The economics for a large Fortune 250 company are entirely different than those of a relatively small operator like Republic as an independent.

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I like the republic wifi calling. I am apprehensive about using the standard system. At my house, the cell service is very poor. Significant other’s pixel phone on google-fi (she needs intl calling) will switch from the strong wifi signal onto the lousy cellular if it catches a whisper of signal. Then the call quality plummets and call gets dropped.

I signed up with republic specifically for the good wifi calling as the alternative was to get a femtocell from one of the big/expensive providers. Does standard wifi calling still suffer from this?

Hi @yoghurt and welcome to the Community!

For the sake of clarity, what will become grandfathered My Choice plans will continue to use Republic’s proprietary technology when new plans launch. No Republic member currently using My Choice is required to switch to a new plan the day they become available.

You can more or less answer this for yourself. Does your wife’s phone still suffer from this? This was a common complaint with Fi when Fi launched but generally I don’t see many complaints about it now.

There’s another alternative though not exactly an elegant one. Placing the phone in Airplane mode then manually reenabling WiFi will force WiFi calling. Airplane mode disables the cell radio, so there’s no possibility of catching a whisper of signal. You might try that with your wife’s phone as a test. Of course, one then needs to remember to take the phone out of airplane mode when out about and away from WiFi.

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My Pixel phones all give me the choice of preferring Wi-Fi or cellular calling. If I choose Wi-Fi, the call typically stays on Wi-Fi. This is with a T-Mobile MVNO. If I choose to prefer cellular, the calls in my basement all get completed on Wi-Fi (where there is a poor cellular signal).

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Does anyone else find it interesting that Google Pixel has implemented WiFi using the ‘standard’ WiFi that does a credible job of emulating that which Republic has been using all along?

I’m afraid I’m missing your point. How have Google Pixels done anything different using industry standard WiFi calling from other phone brands?

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From @cbwahlstrom comments, it appears that they allow a Pixel user to set preference’s, something I don’t see on my Moto or Samsung device

No, the ability to prefer WiFi calling over the mobile network is not limited to Google’s Pixels. It’s supported on most Androids though is also a function of the network to which one’s phone is connected.

If you’re not seeing the preference on your Samsung and/or Motorola phones, are they activated on Republic? If so, that’s why.

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Basically none of the big providers offer femtocells any longer. Instead they tell you to turn on wifi calling on your phone.

I fail to see the option on my Moto X4, which was not attached to Republic. I just swapped active from my Samsung and will check it, once activation is complete.
Any clues as to what the particular option is, that would help me find it?