EE are due to launch their 4G LTE network in the UK this week and they've confirmed that initially still be be using their 3G network for voice calls. The other option would be to use Voice Over LTE (VoLTE), but they are currently far from ready to roll-out the new technology.
For many people this will be the first time they've ever heard the term VoLTE, so we thought we'd write a short guide explaining all about the new technology !
What is VoLTE ?
VoLTE uses new super-speed 4G LTE networks to enable users to make video calls using mobile data , rather than over standard voice networks. Essentially, it works in a similar way to Skype but over an operators 4G LTE network meaning you can call anyone , rather than just just being able to call those who have installed Skype.
What are the benefits of VoLTE ?
The major benefit of using VoLTE is that call-quality will be much higher than current 3G calls due to the amount of extra data that can now be transmitted. Additionally, you will be able to use VoLTE to make video calls across networks and devices, which will also benefit from superior quality to current video calling.
How will it change everyday phone use and mobile tariffs ?
The biggest change will be that instead of judging your calls by minutes you'll have to switch to judging them by the data you've used. Infact, VoLTE could in the long term signal a move away from operators offering tariffs with included minutes altogether.
What challenges do the operators face in rolling out VoLTE ?
The operators face many challenges in rolling out VoLTE in the UK.
The first major challenge is rolling out their 4G LTE networks in the first place. EE are due to roll-out their network this week, but it'll be a long time until the network reaches widespread coverage. While the other operators won't launch their networks till the middle of 2013 at the earliest.
The operators also need to find a way to incorporate VoLTE without eroding their profits. VoLTE would remove the need for users to make traditional voice calls which could cut the operators profits. In order to resolve this they'll need to find some way to monetise the use of VoLTE and we anticipate it'll have to involve something more complex than merely charging for data use.
The networks also need to find some way to share data across each others 4G LTE networks. This could be especially problematic in the UK where EE and Three will use different wireless spectrums to provide 4G than O2 and Vodafone.
When can we expect VoLTE to launch in the UK ?
The operators face many challenges getting their 4G LTE networks up and running before they can even contemplate offering VoLTE. However, we are hopeful that we should see VoLTE being available in the UK, in some capacity , before the end of 2013.
We'll bring you any news regarding the development of VoLTE as soon as we get any fresh information. We're pretty excited about the new technology, but we anticipate resistance from the operators to its introduction.
By Simon Thomas on 29th October, 2012