Should a building owner or facilities manager ever consider installing a Wi-Fi network for Wi-Fi calling in lieu of a Cellular Distributed Antenna System (DAS) when the cellular signal is poor?

The short answer: No! We could end this here but then what then would be the point of this blog? So indulge us as we elaborate.

The major US cellular carriers support Wi-Fi calling on many of their devices. Many customers who live in areas with poor cellular coverage may enable this feature when at home and then connect to their own Wi-Fi network. From our perspective, this may be the only viable use case for Wi-Fi calling. There aren’t many alternatives unless you want to install a low-cost cellular booster and find a way to route the antenna to the roof of your house and hope for the best.

The other option may be to install a carrier-provided small cell and use your internet connection to backhaul the voice traffic (but frankly this is just one more device that you need to worry about).

But the hands-down best technical solution for cellular problems inside commercial buildings, public venues, hotels, multi-family residential buildings, and everything except a single-family residence, is a Cellular DAS.

Here’s a simple look at the limitations of Wi-Fi calling


1. Dependence on Wi-Fi Quality

Wi-Fi calling relies entirely on the quality of the Wi-Fi connection. In environments where the Wi-Fi is poor—whether due to signal strength, bandwidth limitations, or congestion—the quality of calls can suffer significantly. Issues such as dropped calls, poor audio quality, and delays are more frequent under such conditions.

2. Inconsistency in Service

Unlike cellular networks, which are designed to offer widespread and consistent coverage, Wi-Fi networks can vary greatly in performance and coverage, even within the same building. Wi-Fi signals can be blocked by physical barriers like walls and floors, leading to inconsistent service as one moves around.

3. Security Concerns

Wi-Fi networks are generally more vulnerable to security threats than encrypted cellular networks. This makes Wi-Fi calling potentially less secure, particularly on public or poorly secured networks, where the risk of interception or eavesdropping is higher.

Is there anyone left on planet Earth who uses a hotel’s Wi-Fi network to access their online banking account?

4. Limited Availability and Compatibility

Not all smartphones or carriers support Wi-Fi calling, and even when they do, users might need to manually enable this feature. This can be inconvenient, and there’s also a lack of universal support across different devices and networks.

5. Emergency Services

Wi-Fi calling can sometimes provide inaccurate location data to emergency services. This is a significant issue because precise location information is crucial in emergency situations.

Our conclusion

Using Wi-Fi calling when you’re home with no options is probably acceptable. For critical communications, especially in environments like commercial buildings, healthcare facilities, or areas where reliable communication is a safety issue, more dependable solutions such as Cellular DAS are preferred.

There are a number of Cellular DAS technologies and products that have come to market in the last few years, lowering costs, reducing installation times, and simplifying maintenance.  These technologies are always preferable to a Wi-Fi Calling network for ease of use, security, and reliability.

If you’d like additional information about Cellular DAS and the options for your facility, please reach out to us. As always, we thank our friend ChatGPT for helping us fill in the blanks for this blog.