T-Mobile became the first of the national carriers to launch a video calling service , which lets subscribers place video calls just like standard voice calls without launching a third-party app.
For now, the service is available only on a handful of phones, and video calls can be made only over LTE channels or Wi-Fi to other T-Mobile subscribers who also use video-call-enabled phones. T-Mobile, however, promises to expand the phone selection and said it is working with its rivals to enable cross-network video calls when those carriers launch their own video calling service.
Data consumed by a video call over LTE will count against a user’s LTE data bucket.
Video Calling is available on the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and Samsung Galaxy Note 5 via a software update. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will be the next phones to get Video Calling, and by the end of the year, three more video-call-enabled devices will be available for a total of seven, said CTO Neville Ray.
He noted that Video Calling works right out-of-the-box from a smartphone’s dialer. “There’s no need to search out, download, configure and register additional apps,” he said in a blog post. Subscribers will place and receive calls as they normally would: by choosing either the video call button or voice call button, he explained.
On a video calling phone, a small camera icon appears next to contacts who also have video-calling phones. If the person being called doesn’t have a compatible phone, the video call icon is grayed out.
Users can make video calls over Wi-Fi without using LTE data, and like HD Voice calls, T-Mobile video calls hand off between LTE and Wi-Fi. When a subscriber moves from Wi-Fi or LTE to a slower 3G connection, the video call switches to a voice call. If the phone moves back to LTE or Wi-Fi, the subscriber taps the display to switch back to video calling.
The service is part of LTE-based Rich Communications Services (RCS) technology, which is an industry standard.
RCS is the technology that enabled T-Mobile in July to launch Advanced Messaging service, which delivers messaging capabilities previously available only with third-party apps. The messaging service upgrades regular SMS and MMS by adding real-time chat and the ability to share photos and videos up to 10MB right out of the box.
RCS is part of the IP-based Voice over LTE (VoLTE) standard.