Tag Archives: wireless

Reasons Why You Should Use Wi-Fi Calling

After reading this article from Techlicious, you’ll definitely start using Wi-Fi calling in certain situations.

device pitstop model calling with wi-fi

What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why You Should Be Using It

By Kaitlyn Wells

Most of us spend time in at least a few places where our phones just don’t work, whether it’s a room or two at home, a favorite basement coffee shop or some other signal-blocked location. That’s where Wi-Fi calling can save the day. Instead of relying on the cellular phone network, Wi-Fi calling and texting uses an available Wi-Fi network to place your call over the Internet.

Clearly, if you don’t have a cellular signal or it’s spotty, the ability to make Wi-Fi calls comes in handy. But that isn’t the only reason you’ll want to use Wi-Fi calling.

Wi-Fi calling is perfect for overseas travelers because there’s typically no roaming or international charge for making calls or sending texts back home. Sprint doesn’t charge for Wi-Fi calls to your family back in the United States, but Wi-Fi calling isn’t supported in some countries, including Australia and China. T-Mobile doesn’t charge roaming fees for Wi-Fi calls but will deduct your call minutes for calls made between U.S. lines if you don’t have an unlimited plan. And Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will still charge an international rate if you call an international line using your U.S.-based smartphone.

How to make a Wi-Fi call

Wi-Fi calling isn’t automatically enabled on smartphones. To turn yours on, go to the Settings menu. On iPhones go to Settings > Phone and then toggle on Wi-Fi calling. On Android, you’ll generally find Wi-Fi settings under Settings > Networks > Call, where you can then toggle on Wi-Fi calling.

Once you activate Wi-Fi calling, you dial or text as usual. The routing of your call or text is handled automatically in the background.

Does my carrier offer Wi-Fi calling?

All major cell phone carriers now support Wi-Fi calling, with support for the most recent iPhones and Android phones. And, the feature will inevitably become more widespread. “Wi-Fi calling exists because it’s a great way for the carriers to offload their network traffic and increase coverage without having to pay for it,” Michael Bremmer, CEO of TelecomQuotes.comwrote in an email.

So when will you get Wi-Fi calling? Here’s the latest on Wi-Fi for each of the major carriers:

Sprint Wi-Fi calling is available on most recent Android devices and iPhones, starting with the iPhone 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus and 6s and 6s Plus with iOS software v8.3 and higher. Check your phone’s settings menu to see if it’s supported.

T-Mobile offers 38 different phones with Wi-Fi calling, including recent iPhone models, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, the LG G5 and HTC 10.

AT&T has rolled out Wi-Fi Calling to 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus with iOS software v9.0 and higher and is starting to roll out to Android devices, beginning with the LG G4.

Verizon Wireless has rolled out Wi-Fi calling to 14 devices including the iPhone 6, 6s and 6s Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, HTC 10, LG G4 and G5.  

Or course, if your handset doesn’t support Wi-Fi calling, you may be able to find some workarounds. Apps like FaceTime, Google Voice, Line, Skype and WeChat allow you to make voice and video calls over Wi-Fi as well as send text messages.

How Wi-Fi calling compares to cellular

Thanks to the growing popularity of free public Wi-Fi hotspots, you may not need to pay another dime to make a call again. In fact, Cisco VNI predicts global hotspots will increase sevenfold from 2014 to 2018, resulting in 109 million hotspots in North America alone.

But a cheap price tag doesn’t always equate with high quality. “Trying to get the best signal for a Wi-Fi call is challenging,” said Anurag Lal, president and CEO of telecommunications company Infinite Convergence. “Many times, [the quality of service is through] individual users with a Wi-Fi network, and there is no guarantee for a particular bandwidth.” Lal adds that signal strength can diminish as more people attempt to use the same network, such as at hotels, airports or athletic stadiums.

Consumers may have another gripe with Wi-Fi calling service: there may be a 1- or 2-second delay in the conversation. Think of the delay you hear with the echo of the same news broadcast aired on different TVs in your home. If you’re accustomed to receiving an immediate response using traditional phone service, a conversation over Wi-Fi may annoy you.

While it doesn’t make sense for most people to switch to a Wi-Fi-only provider like Scratch Wireless, Wi-Fi calling can make a big difference if you have limited minutes, get poor reception or travel abroad.

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Is Your Wireless Keyboard or Mouse Vulnerable to Hackers?

Check out the article below from Techlicious about a new form of data theft and how to keep your devices and information safe. You can also see the article on techlicious.com.

Device Pitstop model with wireless keyboard

Keyloggers Posing as Chargers Steal Wireless Data

by Elmer Montejo

Wireless keyboards and mice are the new way in to your data for hackers and scammers. A few months ago, researchers found that more than one billion mice and keyboards were vulnerable to hacking through their wireless transmitters. And, the latest trend: devices designed look like USB phone chargers that sniff passwords and text that you type into wireless keyboards.

Last month, the FBI sent out a warning to businesses about the vulnerability of wireless devices in offices. The culprit is a harmless-looking device known as the KeySweeper, a $10 device that masquerades as a USB phone charger but actually logs and decrypts keystrokes from older wireless Microsoft keyboards and devices.

Imagine if a device like the KeySweeper were plugged into an outlet in Starbucks or smuggled into your office and plugged in near the workstations. Anyone using a wireless device would be wide open for data harvesting — passwords, personally identifiable information, trade secrets, intellectual property, sensitive information or anything typed into a wireless keyboard. Because the theft happens over the air long before your keystrokes reach your computer, “security managers may not have insight into how sensitive information is being stolen,” warned the FBI advisory.

The KeySweeper can intercept radio frequency signals from some Microsoft wireless keyboards made before 2011. Many of these are still available in stores. Microsoft maintains that KeySweeper can’t attack its Bluetooth-enabled keyboards. And its 2.4-gigahertz wireless keyboards released after 2011 are immune because they use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption technology.

Hiding behind hardware from another company might not be the safety net you’d hoped. The FBI advisory suggests that similar devices could be programmed to exploit non-Microsoft wireless keyboards and devices.

The KeySweeper uses a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) to send harvested data to web servers over a cellular connection. It can forward text containing flagged keywords such as URLs to a mobile device via SMS. The device even includes a flash memory module to store data in case SMS functionality is unavailable and a rechargeable battery for backup power.

The best way to avoid this hardware vulnerability is to avoid using wireless input devices in offices and other places accessible by many people. Instead, use wired devices, or use newer devices with AES encryption or Bluetooth with encryption and a strong PIN. The FBI recommends restricting the use of mobile chargers that look like the KeySweeper in offices.

Replace your old keyboard and mouse

When you’re using a wireless keyboard and mouse on the go, you’ll want the best combination of usability and portability. Here are our picks to replace your data-leaking devices.

For a keyboard, we like the Logitech K480 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard ($36.79 on Amazon). Not only does it works with Windows tablets (and Macs), it also can pair with your Android and iOS devices, Apple TV (2nd and 3rd generation) and any other device that supports Bluetooth keyboards. And it can be paired with up to three devices at a time. When you move between devices, just turn the device dial to switch. The K480 is a full-size keyboard and has nicely spaced chicklet-style keys for easy typing. It comes in black or white and features a handy slot to hold your tablet.

If you’re looking for new mouse, we like the Logitech MX Anywhere 2 mouse ($59.99 on Amazon). In addition to Bluetooth, the MX Anywhere 2 comes with a tiny RF receiver that you can plug into your PC or Mac laptop. The mouse can pair with up to three devices and switching between them is a simple matter of touching a button. The mouse uses Logitech’s Dark Field Laser sensor, which offers great tracking on any surface, even high gloss surfaces. The mouse’s rechargeable battery lasts up to two months between charges.

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