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No bars? No worries as Optus introduces mobile Wi-Fi calling

Optus prepaid and postpaid customers will now be able to make and receive calls and texts via a Wi-Fi connection using their own phone number, thanks to the launch of WiFi Talk.

Optus

Bad reception is no longer a problem for Optus customers, with the telco announcing the introduction of WiFi Talk, a service that lets customers make and receive calls and text messages over a Wi-Fi connection.

Available as a free app download from both the App Store and Google Play, WiFi Talk can be used by Optus prepaid and postpaid customers and unlike other VoIP services, it allows users to retain their own phone number when they're calling and texting.

While overseas telcos such as T-Mobile in the US and EE in the UK have already begun offering baked-in apps that allow users to seamlessly switch to Wi-Fi calling when they lose reception, Optus says it is the first Australian telco to offer the service. It's a big win for regional customers who can rely on their home broadband connection for calls, rather than having to worry about mobile reception.

WiFi Talk uses a standard Wi-Fi connection to carry calls and text messages, and only data from that Wi-Fi connection is used, meaning customers won't face additional data charges on their own bill. However, Optus says "calls and texts are charged to your mobile bill (or deducted from your prepaid balance) with the same inclusions and rates as your Optus mobile plan."

Despite this, Optus says the data required to make calls is "relatively small," equating to roughly 300kB per minute when making a call and approximately 80kB per minute when the app is running idle in the background.

Speaking WiFi Talk , Optus Vice President of Customer Experience and Delivery Amanda Hutton said it was about giving customers the best possible experience.

"WiFi Talk is an innovative solution to help customers stay connected easily if mobile coverage is limited indoors, whether at home, in the office, or even in places such as shopping centres," she said.

"The app is simple and easy to use. Unlike traditional WiFi calling applications, it uses your existing Optus mobile number when people call or text you, and they don't need the app or have to do anything differently."

WiFi Talk is available from today for Optus prepaid and postpaid customers with iPhones running iOS version 6 and above, and Android handsets using Android 4.0 and above.