Three becomes first UK operator to commercially launch Voice over LTE (VoLTE), claiming technology will boost indoor reception and rural coverage
Three has started rolling out Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology across its network, allowing customers to make calls on a 4G connection, improving quality and coverage in hard to reach places.
At present, Three’s LTE network only handles data and 4G users revert to 2G or 3G when making a call, interrupting the flow of data. VoLTE not only ensures a consistent connection but should mean more reliable and better quality voice services.
Both EE and Vodafone have plans to offer VoLTE, but Three is the first UK operator to launch commercially.
Three VoLTE launch
‘4G Super Voice’ uses Three’s 800MHz spectrum which offers superior range and indoor penetration than higher bands like 1800MHz or 2.6GHz. This should make it easier for customers in rural areas, complex indoor environments or on public transport to communicate with friends and colleagues.
Three expects to reach one million users by the end of the year and 5.5 million by the conclusion of 2016. Access is determined by coverage and whether a user has a compatible handset. The service will go live with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and more handsets will be added over the coming weeks and months – including the recently announced iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Three’s VoLTE coverage currently stands at 50 percent of the UK population and 20 cities already have 75 percent coverage, including London, Edinburgh, Exeter and Birmingham. It is expected that coverage will reach 65 percent by the New Year.
“By the end of the year, one million of our customers will have access to better indoor coverage and be able to use their phones in more places than ever before,” said Bryn Jones, Three CTO. “We are proud to be the first network to roll this out across the country.”
The rollout of VoLTE and 800MHz form part of a wider strategy by Three to improve indoor signal and complement the Three InTouch voice over Wi-Fi application. EE and Vodafone have already enabled native VoWi-Fi although Three has told TechWeekEurope it is “working” on it.
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