EE Plans £275m Voice Upgrade And VoLTE Trials

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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EE will upgrade 2G and 3G sites as part of plan to have best voice in Europe

EE will invest £275 million in its voice service next year as it seeks to complement its superfast 4G network with better mobile calls.

The operator says it will upgrade the 20-year old network equipment at 5,000 2G sites and increase the capacity of 5,500 3G sites by 50 percent.

The pledge forms part of a wider £1.5 billion investment in the EE network, and will build on its 2013 voice service enhancement, which saw it upgrade 6,000 2G sites and 1,600 3G sites, resulting in the operator’s highest ever call success rate, despite the number of calls on its network increasing.

EE investment

“While we consistently outperform on the standard UK benchmark for voice call quality and reliability, I don’t believe the benchmark is right,” says CEO Olaf Swantee. “I think the UK mobile industry can do better, and we intend to improve the experience for our customers, taking our quality and reliability to levels to those achieved by other operators across Europe.

mobile phone train signal © Peter Bernik Shutterstock“For the majority of our customers, being able to make a phone call when they need to is still the vital aspect of the mobile experience.”

EE will also hold trials of future services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Voice over Wi-Fi next year. LTE in the UK does not currently carry voice services, but VoLTE is being readied for launch in a number of countries next year, with European operator Tele2 preparing services in the Netherlands and Sweden.

When asked by TechWeekEurope last month, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said VoLTE was not on its radar in the near future due to the low penetration of 4G compared to 3G and 2G, but with EE’s 4G network set to reach 160 towns and cities by Christmas, it could be more practical.

EE currently has 1.2 million 4G subscribers and has refreshed its tariffs in the hope of maintaining its lead despite the arrival of competing services. Vodafone and O2 rolled out their own LTE networks in August, while Three 4G went live earlier this month.

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