Cell C Wi-Fi calling tested

Wi-Fi calling on Cell C is set to launch on 1 October, with support for the feature coming first to the AG Style handset.

It will let Cell C subscribers make and receive calls, and send and receive SMS messages, over any Wi-Fi network they are connected to.

In addition to effectively extending Cell C coverage to wherever you have Wi-Fi access, which could help international travellers reduce their roaming bills, the operator has also launched two deals specific to Wi-Fi calling.

These offer 1,000 Cell C on-network minutes, 1,000 SMS messages, and 500 all-network minutes for R199 per month.

To get an idea of what subscribers can expect from Cell C Wi-Fi calling, we put the service to the test using a ZTE Blade V6 which is set to become available on Cell C from 15 October.

Disconnection from the Cell C mobile network

Cell C Wi-Fi calling connection icon and settings
Cell C Wi-Fi calling connection icon and settings

Two things immediately stood out while testing Cell C’s Wi-Fi calling service on our Android device.

Firstly, there was an additional icon in the notification tray which appeared when connected to a Wi-Fi network – it showed whether Wi-Fi calling was available or not.

Secondly, when Wi-Fi calling was available, the phone would disconnect from Cell C’s mobile network.

This could be a smart long-term move from the operator, as it may free up capacity on its towers for those without Wi-Fi calling or who are not on Wi-Fi.

We tested Wi-Fi calling on a number of different Wi-Fi networks which were connected to the Internet through various carriers and service providers.

On DSL accounts from Vox and Webafrica, we were unable to connect to the Cell C Wi-Fi calling service – receiving messages such as “Error5:DNS Error”.

On Telkom LTE-A and a Centurion-based wireless ISP (Level-7), we were able to access Wi-Fi calling.

Cell C is aware of the DNS error experienced on some DSL networks.

Cell C Wi-Fi connection errors
Cell C Wi-Fi connection errors

Making and receiving calls

We also tested whether you could make and receive calls to or from Cell C, MTN, Telkom, and Vodacom, while on Cell C Wi-Fi calling.

All calls made from our Cell C number routed correctly.

Calls made from other mobile operators came through to our device on Wi-Fi calling, with the exception of those placed from a Telkom number that had been ported from Vodacom.

Calls from this Telkom number did not come through whether we were on Wi-Fi calling or Cell C’s mobile network.

We were able to call this ported Telkom number from our Cell C test SIM. Calls from an unported Telkom number connected successfully.

Cell C is aware of this routing issue between a number ported to Telkom and one of its SIMs.

While testing call routing, two things stood out:

  • The icon on the green call button in the dialler changed to show that a Wi-Fi call was being made.
  • When hanging up from the device on Cell C Wi-Fi calling, it took a few seconds for the network to register that the call had been disconnected. If the other phone was ringing, it continued to ring for a few seconds while the call disconnected.
Cell C Wi-Fi calling dialler, popup, and hanging up hang
Cell C Wi-Fi calling dialler, popup, and hanging up “hang”

Call quality

Call quality was tested with a Telkom mobile subscriber, while the ZTE Blade V6 was connected to a hotspot backed by a Telkom LTE-A wireless broadband connection.

Both participants could hear one another clearly, and there was no discernible latency between speaking and getting a reply.

Update: Cell C said it has isolated the DNS problems we reported to likely be due to a query standard not supported by our DSL router. It has addressed the issue by building a fallback to a supported DNS query into devices that support Wi-Fi calling.

Disclaimer: Cell C provided a ZTE Blade V6 and a SIM with R100 airtime with which to test its Wi-Fi calling service.

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Cell C Wi-Fi calling tested