How to: T-Mobile WiFi calling on Android phones with Verizon FiOS

Well, another frustrating problem bites the dust. And my solution is documented here for others who have suffered trying to explain to T-Mobile customer support drones that, no, it’s not my phone — I have four of them that do exactly the same thing. And no, our Internet connection is up. And, no, I won’t reset the phone to factory defaults because it didn’t work when it came out of the box.

What really mystified me about the problem I am about to describe is the total lack of Google search results that describe this specific problem and potential solutions. There’s nary a hint of what I found, despite months of searching. My experience is that there’s always another heat-seeker out there who’s suffering the same issues I am and that guy has posted about it somewhere. This is the first time in years I wasn’t able to find a discussion or posting about my problem. Hopefully, Google will index this post for the rest of the world who seeks to use T-Mobile’s Android WiFi calling app with a Verizon FiOS Internet connection through Actiontec routers.

Last November, I upgraded the family to T-Mobile G2 smartphones. T-Mobile offers a WiFi calling app on these phones, I suppose as a tacit admission of their network’s failings. Our previous BlackBerrys had UMA calling which differs from the Android app only in the fact that UMA was supposed to automatically transfer calls from the cellular network to a WiFi hotspot. (It never worked.)

We have a Verizon FiOS 35Mbps symmetrical Internet connection. You’d imagine that would be fast enough for T-Mobile WiFi calling. But from the moment I tried to use WiFi calling on the G2 last fall, the sound quality was terrible, voice was choppy and calls would drop after a few seconds. It didn’t work well in other WiFi hotspots either.

Recently, I noticed that WiFi calling started working in public hotspots like those at McDonald’s. That made me wonder if T-Mobile had done something to their network in this area. So, I turned on the WiFi calling app on the FiOS connection and bam something different happened. Instead of connecting and not working, the app now returned a specific error: W006.15 ISP or T-Mobile network error. Now, instead of not working well, the WiFi calling app wouldn’t connect at all.

I actually welcomed this. The app was so useless and unreliable before and T-Mobile’s support was so lame, I was happy to have a hard error. At least that would give me plenty of Google searching to find the problem. But once again the searches were unsatisfying. Finally, I decided it had to be an issue with the Actiontec. I researched ports for UMA and VoIP and tried opening them on the Actiontec. No joy.

Then today, I came across this Wikipedia article on SIP ALG. Funny how a problem that persisted for months melted away in seconds when I finally found the right path. I dug into the advanced settings of the Actiontec and discovered its SIP ALG is disabled by default. Enabling it and restarting the router has resulted in crystal-clear WiFi calling on my T-Mobile G2 over Verizon FiOS. All this effort wouldn’t have been necessary had T-Mobile documented what the app requires. They ship the damn thing on the phone — they should at least post its technical and system requirements somewhere.

Here’s how to do it.

First, log into your Actiontec router. Then select the Advanced icon at the top and acknowledge the warning message. You should end up at a page similar to this one (click on the image to enlarge).

Step 1 in setting Actiontec FiOS router for T-Mobile WiFi calling

Then click on the SIP ALG link, highlighted in this screen shot.

Step 2 select SIP ALG for T-Mobile WiFi calling on FiOS

Then, simply enable the SIP application-level gateway, as below. Reboot the router and enjoy WiFi calling from your T-Mobile Android phone over FiOS.

Step 3 enable the SIP application level gateway to permit T-Mobile WiFi calling on FiOS


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5 responses to “How to: T-Mobile WiFi calling on Android phones with Verizon FiOS”

  1. pzo Avatar
    pzo

    I have been using UMA off and on for four years. I had a Nokia 6086, the UMA is hardware based. It worked very reliably except for one spell late 2007 (?) that was driving everyone nuts on the Howard forums. TM certainl had no clue, despite many people making many calls trying to fix it. The cause was obviously TM because suddenly one day, everything was fine for everyone, all over the country.

    I now have a myTouch 3G running Gingerbread 2.3 and Cyanogen. Wifi calling on Android is done via a software method, not hardware. This is why it doesn’t hand off, etc. I have also found it more likely to get connection errors or “Enabling……….” forever errors. It likes to have a much stronger wifi signal than the hardware version, but you can connect by the AP and then walk away, it’s still good.

    I seem to have more issues connecting after I backed up my entire phone with ROM Manager. Weirdly, I now get a lot more battery life, like double, even though it wasn’t a reset. Oh, well, “The Android Lord giveth, the Android Lord taketh away.”

    So, bottom line in my experiences, is don’t expect too much of the Android wifi. It may not be there when you need it, or it may.

  2. Charles Avatar
    Charles

    Even after enabling SIP ALG on my Netgear WNR2000v2, calls are still very choppy. I’m on a Comcast Blast Extra service (up to 25Mbps down/1Mbps up). Even when I’m only getting 512Kbps up, it should be more than adequate bandwidth.

    The choppiness is mostly with the incoming calls though. I think if T-Mobile can’t fix this feature they should stop marketing it.

    1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
      Alex Neihaus

      I completely agree with you that T-Mobile has a deal with the devil going on with WiFi calling. They’d probably love to hate it, but since they have a poor network with frequencies that cannot penetrate buildings, they have to have something to offer. But that doesn’t mean they have to love it.

      When I first got my G2’s, the WiFi app refused to work on all four of them in any hotspot we tried. T-Mobile’s response? It varied from “it must be you” to “what’s WiFi?”

      Cell companies are evil — and shipping an app with so much promise that under-delivers is just another proof point of their evil.

  3. Louis Rossmann Avatar
    Louis Rossmann

    I was elated when I found this. I have Verizon FIOS with an actiontec router in a basement and was hoping this would fix my wifi calling issue. this has only happened on two days, and it usually resolves itself, but this time it didn’t resolve itself.

    Unfortunately, this didn’t resolve it either. Same error. T-Mobile is clueless. šŸ™

    1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
      Alex Neihaus

      It’s a real shame, ain’t it that T-Mobile hasn’t been able to resolve this in such a long time. It’s burns me up that someone in T-Mobile knows how to fix this — but they just can’t admit they have a problem.

      Since I’ve written this, I’ve changed phones (from a G2 to a Sensation 4G). The new phone has an updated WiFi dialing app that only rarely produces this error. So, they’re getting better. Maybe it’s a plot to get us all to upgrade three or four times (and extend our contracts for the next decade).

      You wouldn’t believe the traffic this post gets from frustrated people looking for an answer. Proof positive that cell companies are evil.

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