WhatsApp just released their calling service that is built in right in the app. The service has been rumored for quite some time and now it is available to everyone if they activated. Starting with V2.12.19 WhatsApp Calling is available. The ones that have an older version will need to upgrade it in order to call others or be called. To upgrade users can just connect to a wi-fi network or download it directly from the WhatsApp website.
It Is Really For Free?
The answer is somewhere in the middle. WhatsApp does offer the service for free and users do not need to pay WhatsApp a cent to call someone using it. Theoretically the feature is free but there are some hidden costs.
Voice calling using WhatsApp is what some might define as VoIP communications. This means that users need an internet connection to call someone. Sadly it is nearly impossible to use on 2G and 2.5G but it tends to work alright on 3G and 4G. When using it the phone will actually sent a live audio stream and in parallel it will receive an audio stream from the other person at the end of the line.
This type of internet traffic can lead to some unpredictable costs. Streaming audio can eat up the subscription free traffic in just a few hours. After reaching their free traffic limit some users get charged for each MB of traffic they use which can add up to enormous phone bills. This is why the service is partially free.
WhatsApp calling becomes truly free when using a wi-fi connection to place a call. Also the quality is much better using high speed internet rather than 3G.
The service was launched not too long ago and carriers already announced their intention to introduce special plans just for WhatsApp calls. This means that some users might find themselves being forced to change their subscription to a more expensive one just to avoid getting huge bills. In simple words WhatsApp users will need to pay more for their subscription to save more. All this money goes directly to the carriers and WhatsApp does not make a single cent but that does not make it completely free.
On the other hand we can also see something in the likes of Viber happening. Viber has been banned in multiple countries by the mobile carriers because it causes them to lose money on international calls. The same thing can happen for WhatsApp calls.
In the end the service is well appreciated and a lot of people have been waiting for it ever since it was first announced. A lot of time passed since then and now it is finally here. WhatsApp now unifies voice and text communication in a single app that is offered for free for the first 12 months then just $0.99 per year which is a great deal.
In terms of costing it is up to each individual to manage his data usage and avoid using too much traffic that will end up with a large cellphone bill and a big headache.