One out of three international smartphone travelers are aware of WiFi calling. Of those, seven out of 10 find it appealing and 77 percent will increase communication using WiFi calling, according to an Ericsson survey of 5,000 smartphone users in Brazil, Egypt, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. Respondents all traveled internationally in the past 12 months.
A mix of both business and leisure travelers was included, as were 200 existing WiFi calling users from the U.S.
WiFi calling is an operator-provided service that makes it possible for consumers to make regular phone calls and send text messages from their SIM-based mobile phone number, even if they have poor cellular coverage, by utilizing a WiFi network.
WiFi calling does not require a separate app to be installed on the smartphone. Consumers are reachable on their normal phone number and can place a call or text from the native dialer on the phone itself.
The experience of uninterrupted service drives satisfaction among 4 out of 5 existing U.S.-based WiFi calling users who are frequent international travelers , with 61 percent claiming they now make longer and more frequent voice calls.
The survey also revealed WiFi callers want a seamless experience, but 53 percent claim they experience inconsistent call quality at times.
While 35 percent of international travelers with smartphones claim they will give up using communication apps in favor of WiFi calling, an equal proportion of callers value the enriched communication experience offered by communication apps and will continue to use them.
For existing WiFi callers from the U.S. who are also frequent international travelers, one of the most attractive aspects of WiFi calling is the extended coverage it offers in areas where communication was originally not possible.
Another appealing factor is the ability to save on roaming charges when traveling, and no longer needing third- party communication apps to be installed on the phone.
In order to keep roaming costs down, international smartphone travelers adapt their behavior while abroad–fewer voice calls are made, 88 percent seek WiFi whenever possible, and 23 percent switch off their phones.
Two out of three pre-plan communication and half rely on communication apps, the survey revealed.
While twice as many smartphone users send texts or make voice calls indoors than outdoors, just 40 percent said they find the indoor cellular connectivity experience to be good or excellent and around only 30 percent said they find voice quality, coverage and reliability to be good.
The indoor voice calling experience issue is more prominent in the dense urban cities within China, Brazil, Japan and South Korea, where only 10-20 percent of smartphone users claim that the experience is good.