Feb 13, 2012

Why do VoIP calls over WiFi still get counted as "minutes used" by mobile providers?

I assumed that Android calls made using google voice over WiFi connections would not count against voice minutes or data plan minutes because neither are being used. As is the case with all too many things, I have been proven wrong, and the google voice calls get charged against the minutes in our voice plan. I am a late adopter of smartphones (figured I was connected enough as it was, and I always carry my laptop with me, old dog, new tricks, etc.), so I must be missing something obvious about how VoIP over WiFi works. Please enlighten me!


For many users they have minute plans that have unlimited calling to certain numbers. Most of them set Google voice as one of the unlimited number on their plan. They then set double click option in GV so their GV number is called first, and no minutes a charged for calls. They often give out the Google voice number for incoming calls also. Then they do not use any minutes caling or receiving. With this setting Google voice has been a good choice for many. 


I have tried to do just thsi but the problem I constantly encounter is GV annoying persistance to utilize random number through which to place the calls; the result: my cellular minutes become used. Is there a way of forcing GV to place the call through my data connection (I have unlimited data so this would be ideal) , without using Talkaphone, Groove IP or other third party apps? (I do not want to use third party apps because Google is ending support for them on May, 15 2014.) How would I go about solving my problem? What do you think is the best course of action?

Well, you know how greedy these companies are these days. If they can change you, they WILL charge you. Have you looked into Skype? Perhaps that might be a better and/or cheaper bet for you for wifi calling?


"Make free Skype-to-Skype video calls, and call phones at Skype rates on the move
Make free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype, whether they’re on an Android, iPhone, Mac or PC, as well as IMs to your friends and family.
- Skype to Skype IMs, video and voice calls are free* over 3G or WiFi.
- Make low-cost calls and SMS to mobiles or landlines from your Android.
- Send pictures, videos and files to any of your contacts.
- Enjoy high-quality sound when you call anyone else on Skype.
- Talk face to face or show what you’re seeing with front and rear-facing cameras."
I wondered the same thing when I first started using Google Voice with my Android while at home and with my phone showing a WiFi connection. Turns out that when you make a Google Voice call on an Android device, Google Voices calls into a direct access number where the server that then forwards your call to the number you dialed. So you are actually still making a conventional cell phone call, it is just to a different number, even when your device is showing a WiFi connection. This struck me as odd since I could sit at my desk and make free Google Voice calls on my laptop over WiFi, but the Android phone in my pocket makes me use talk minutes.

You can, however, make calls over WiFi with an Android using Google Voice, but you will have to use an additional app. There are a few choices out there. GrooVe IP is a newer one that has good reviews, and there are more mature apps such as Sipdroid and CSipSimple. It may take a little effort to get everything configured with some of these apps, but after you do, you can use Google Voice directly through your WiFi connection without using either your data or talk minutes. Depending on where you make most of your calls, you may be able to lower your minute plan and save a little money each month. It's definitely worth giving it a try, and at worst you will only be out $5.
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