AT&T subscribers with an iPhone 6 or higher can now make and receive calls via Wi-Fi outside the United States.
Through text messages sent this week, the carrier informed customers of the change to its Wi-Fi calling feature introduced in October. Previously, the feature was limited to calls within the US, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Now, you can use it if you're traveling abroad to make and receive phone calls wirelessly.
AT&T's Wi-Fi calling page has been updated to reflect the change, stating that "Wi-Fi Calling can be used in the Domestic Coverage Area (U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands) and from most international countries."
Wi-Fi calling is a feature that, if enabled, routes your phone calls through a local wireless network. By using a Wi-Fi network, you can still make and receive phone calls even when a cellular connection is weak or unavailable. The feature is provided directly by your carrier and your phone, so you don't have to download any special third-party software. Wi-Fi calling is offered by all four major US carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Making phone calls over a Wi-Fi connection is already popular due to apps such as Skype and WhatsApp. Offering Wi-Fi calling is one way for the major US carriers to compete with such apps as well as with one another as they fight to retain and attract customers.
AT&T's international Wi-Fi calling could save you money. Calling someone via Wi-Fi from one US phone number to another US phone number won't incur any additional charges when abroad. Calling an international number from a US phone number will still incur the usual international calling rates, but it won't cost you airtime charges. You can send text messages via Wi-Fi calling as well.
"You can make calls to domestic numbers and receive calls with no additional charge and no impact on voice call airtime usage," according to AT&T's website. "For international calls, the rates from your calling plan or international long distance package apply."
There are some limitations. For AT&T subscribers, Wi-Fi calling requires an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus. You must also install iOS 9.3, the new version of Apple's mobile operating system that rolled out Monday.