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February 6, 2013

Facebook Introduces Free Wi-Fi and Data Calling for Iphone Users in the US

Wi-Fi is a technology which lets an electronic appliance swap data wirelessly, using radio waves together with a computer networking system and high-speed internet connection. Some of the equipment which can use Wi-Fi is digital audio player, smartphones, personal computer, tablets, computer video-games, etc.  A device that uses Wi-Fi can link up to a network source like the internet by means of a wireless access point (WAP) or hotspot. Hotspots can be a single small room where the walls can block the radio waves or comprise many square meters by making use of various access points that overlap each other.

With Wi-Fi local area networks (LANs) can be used more economically. Wi-Fi can be used in places where cables cannot be used, like outdoors, historical buildings, etc. However, Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to being hacked than wired connections like the Ethernet as the hacker does not require a physical connection.

Data call is a call that is made over a data network like Wi-Fi or 3G. Skype calls and Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) calls are examples of data calls.

On January 16, 2013, Facebook revised its Messenger application to allow free calling over Wi-Fi and data connections.  This facility has been made available only to iPhone users in the United States. Initial tests were conducted in Canada for two weeks, from the beginning of January 2013, which was successful and this prompted Facebook to introduce the same facility in the United States also. This is the company’s new venture to allow friends to be in touch with each other easily.

Using this application one can call another Facebook user from one’s iPhone.  The application, which is already present in iPhones does not need any upgrading. iPhone users will see an "i" button on the upper right hand side of the application, which when touched pops up the "Free Call" option. The recipients of the call will get a notice to push, which indicates that somebody is trying to contact them. However, both the persons should have an iPhone and a Facebook account as calls can only be made among two applications.

With the introduction of Messenger Calling, Facebook intends to give all users the ability to call anyone whenever they want to. The free calling facility encompasses the entire iPhone and iPod touch family. Though calling is free by Facebook users via Wi-Fi, one still has to pay for data usage when making calls using 3G or 4G. The free Facebook voice calls have good quality and sound similar to what the other VoIP clients get.

The free calling facility by Facebook gives users a choice to make telephone calls when their usual cell phone signal decreases but the Wi-Fi or data connection is still strong. If Wi-Fi is not available, the users can call by using the data plans of their cell phone carrier.  This new facility will be a benefit for those people who want to save talk time on their cell phone as well as for people living in areas where there is no mobile signal, like developing countries. At present this feature is available only to Canadian and Unites States iPhone users of Facebook Messenger app.

After the great success of Google+ Hangouts, Facebook had started its own form of Video Calling which was not very successful. With the introduction of the free calling service using data connections and Wi-Fi, Facebook intends to move away from its image of being an iMessage or SMS challenger. Earlier this week it had also initiated small search engine changes to the already existing Graph Search. The company is obviously trying to perk up its mobile applications since it is evident that iPhone Facebook users will soon overtake the desktop users and if it is successful this could be the largest VoIP network on earth.

Andrea Walters, a freelance writer for – The Nation’s Lowest All-Digital Price