While AT&T Wi-Fi Calling was tested in a public beta of iOS 9, the carrier has held back on enabling it for the public. AT&T says it’s waiting for a waiver from the FCC that would temporarily relieve the carrier of being required to offer support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
The Federal Communications Commission’s rules state that all calling services need support for a teletypewriter (TTY) service for the deaf, but AT&T wants the old-fashioned TTY replaced with real-time text (RTT) support instead.
AT&T’s RTT service won’t be ready until 2016, thus the need for the temporary waiver. AT&T resubmitted its request for the waiver this week, while at the same time calling out both Sprint and T-Mobile for going ahead and offering Wi-Fi Calling without also requesting a waiver.
“This past Friday, September 25, was the date on which AT&T intended to introduce Wi-Fi calling services in competition with other competitors in the market, namely T-Mobile and Sprint,” AT&T wrote in its filing. “Those carriers have been offering Wi-Fi calling services for a significant period of time, well over a year on Android devices and for months on iOS devices. Neither of those carriers has approached the FCC to request a waiver of the TTY rules. Because the commission has not granted AT&T’s waiver petition, we are not in a position to provide Wi-Fi calling services to our customers even while our competitors provide those services in defiance of the commission’s rules.” (Via Fierce Wireless).
Wi-Fi calling first became available to iPhone users with iOS 8, when T-Mobile became the first carrier to offer the service. The setting allows users with a weak cellular signal to take advantage of a local Wi-Fi signal to make calls on their iPhone.