Orange customers who use Android phones are about to get a boost to their voice calls. If you're in an area where Orange's network coverage is spotty, an embedded Wi-Fi app by Kineto Wireless can give it a helping hand by converting nearby Wi-Fi hotspots into 3G signal.
The Signal Boost service has been part of Orange's offering for years, but Kineto's Smart Wi-Fi app needs to work with open source operating systems, so the recent explosion in the use of Android smartphones means that it (and operators such as Orange) can expand the service.
It improves call performance by offloading traffic from network to Wi-Fi, and improves coverage for customers who can use stronger Wi-Fi signal when cellular signal is weak.
Signal Boost also allows customers to make free calls on any Wi-Fi access point - and you can use it travelling overseas to avoid roaming costs. Just log in to any Wi-Fi hotspot where you have the password to get it automatically going.
However, the app needs to be preloaded onto phones before it even makes it into a high street store. Which means your handset probably doesn't have it yet.
Currently, around 26 Android devices have Smart Wi-Fi, including handsets from HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola. BlackBerrys are also available with Signal Boost, while the recently launched Orange Barcelona and Stockholm have just been added to the range. These will be available from 1 July. The service will be rolled out to T-Mobile customers later this year.