Mobile phone operator EE has launched a new service that allows customers to make phone calls and send texts over wi-fi, eliminating the need for a mobile connection.

The company said that the service is different to other ‘over the top’ services that enable calls using wi-fi because it uses the phone’s normal dialler and contacts book to make calls, and the normal text button to send text messages. There is no need for an app, and contacts don’t need to be using the same closed user group services to talk to or message each other.

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EE said Wi-fi Calling, available from 10 April, could help millions of people who apparently lose mobile connection in at least one room in their house. It could also benefit many people at work who also suffer from dropped calls due to signal problems.

At launch the service will be limited to a small handful of customers who are fortunate enough to own one of the most expensive devices on the market, specifically the Nokia Lumia 640, Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung S6 Edge. The technology behind the service is expected to be integrated into an increasing number new and existing devices in coming weeks.

EE said five million, or 16 percent, of its customers will have access to Wi-fi Calling by the summer.

“Losing coverage at home is a major frustration, and Wi-fi Calling will make a real difference to millions of customers across the UK, from basement flats in London to the most rural homes in the country,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.

“Our customers want to be able to call and text no matter where they are, and they don’t want to have to think about which app they need to use or if their friends have a particular third party service.”

EE is the first mobile operator in the UK to launch the service but based on previous network updates it's likely that O2, Vodafone and Three will roll out their own version of the technology in the not so distant future. 

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