Bouygues Telecom is offering voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services to some of its clients ahead of a wider launch in 2016.
The company, which said it is the first operator in France to provide voice services over a 4G network, is initially making VoLTE available to 5,000 customers including 700 enterprise customers. As things stand, only users with the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge are able to access the service.
Bouygues Telecom added that the VoLTE service would be available for all eligible clients in 2016, when Orange France is also expected to launch a rival offering.
A spokesperson for Orange said the operator plans to launch VoLTE in early 2016 in France to improve the experience of voice for those customers with compatible handsets.
Orange has already launched VoLTE in Romania and plans to deploy both VoLTE and voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) across its European networks "soon", the spokesperson added.
Both VoLTE and VoWi-Fi (or Wi-Fi calling) are important developments for mobile operators as they seek to improve the quality of voice coverage in areas with poor or no mobile coverage.
In the UK, for example, both EE and Vodafone UK have launched dialler-integrated Wi-Fi calling while O2 UK and Three UK currently rely on apps for VoWi-Fi access. Three UK is currently the only operator to have launched VoLTE in this market.
VoLTE is also now available in parts of Africa: Smile Telecom said this week it is the first mobile operator to offer voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) in East Africa after it launched the service in Uganda.
According to a report by Juniper Research earlier this month, the number of VoLTE connections is expected to reach 2 billion by 2020, rising from an estimated 123 million in 2015.
The research company also noted that direct revenues from VoLTE would be limited at first, with increased availability of compatible handsets driving adoption of the technology. Network operators will initially focus on experience and quality of service, rather than monetisation, with failure to deliver a high-quality offering at the outset potentially resulting in churn to rival operators.
- see the Bouygues Telecom release
Smile claims VoLTE first for East Africa
EE, Vodafone UK and Three UK choose different paths for Wi-Fi calling
Juniper Research: Active VoLTE connections to exceed 1B by 2018
Vodafone claims first for Portugal with VoLTE launch
Three UK vaults over rivals with '4G Super Voice' VoLTE service