The company says users of other devices won't have to wait too long to join the party, promising a wider rollout for additional Android smartphones as well as iOS handsets "early next year."
The feature enables a handset to automatically switch to an available Wi-Fi connection -- this could be at home or in a public space with Wi-Fi like a cafe -- when it detects that the cell signal is too weak to maintain a decent connection, or if no signal is available.
Such a service should come in useful for anyone who finds themselves in a place with a lousy or unreliable cell signal, which could be the result of being in an out-of-the-way location or due to a building design that reduces the effectiveness of the signal.
Verizon is offering its Wi-Fi calling feature as part of its "Advanced Calling" voice-over LTE service. The company said in a release that all Wi-Fi calls made to U.S. phone numbers will be free, while calls made to foreign numbers will be billed at international long-distance rates.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said last year the company had been cautious in rolling out Wi-Fi calling because call quality is out of its control and dependent on the Wi-Fi connection. Since those comments, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have all started to roll out their own Wi-Fi calling services, with Verizon evidently reluctant to hold off any longer.
Verizon customers with a Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge device can get started with Wi-Fi calling by downloading and installing the latest software update and turning on Advanced Calling from the settings menu.