Smart starts testing voice calls over LTE
PLDT Inc.’s flagship mobile unit Smart Communications said it had started to test voice calls over LTE, or VoLTE, a way for subscribers to make calls over a data network without using a third-party application.
The call was made through a partnership with Ericsson, Smart said in a statement.
According to Smart, devices will come with built-in VoLTE capability, meaning these will not require applications to make calls, such as Viber or social media platforms.
“Voice will always be an important mobile application, and VoLTE is the platform of the future which will provide the best customer experience when it comes to voice communications,” Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart, said in the statement.
VoLTE uses LTE, also known as 4G, to transmit voice calls, unlike the current practice where calls go through 2G or 3G mobile networks. As such, VoLTE requires strong and consistent LTE coverage.
“We have completed a number of key improvement projects in the last few months, and these have turned our network into a strong platform for offering advanced, purely digital services, such as VoLTE,” Horn said.
Call set-up time, or the amount of time it takes for one mobile phone to connect to another through a voice call, is also drastically reduced with VoLTE.
Once deployed by Smart in its network, VoLTE will allow users with VoLTE-capable devices to stay on the 4G/LTE network even when making or receiving a call.
“This is unlike how, at present, LTE devices automatically shift to 3G or 2G when these make a voice call. This means that a user can simultaneously be in a voice call, while actively using high-speed data for other applications,” Smart said.
At present, the platform is offered by only a handful of leading operators in the world.
“It will take a little time for VoLTE to be fully deployed, largely because capable handsets are either still too expensive, or manufacturers have yet to activate this feature in their existing advanced models. But the excellent results of these tests provides another reason for us to pursue our aggressive LTE roll-out across the Philippines, since ubiquitous LTE coverage is a clear prerequisite to VoLTE adoption,” added Horn.