Swisscom launches VoLTE, prepares to offer Wi-Fi calling

Swisscom said it is the first operator in Switzerland to launch voice over LTE (VoLTE) and that it will add a Wi-Fi calling feature during the summer months.

The operator said upgrades to its LTE network in Switzerland and Liechtenstein allow subscribers in those markets to make voice calls via the network, provided they have a compatible smartphone. The VoLTE service and Wi-Fi calling feature, which enables users' to make calls via any WLAN hotspot, will be sold to consumers under the moniker Advanced Calling.

Marc Werner, head of residential customers at Swisscom, said the operator's Advanced Calling strategy will "enable us to provide our customers with the best possible telephony experience."

The operator stated that VoLTE allows subscribers to continue to receive high data rates while making a call, and that the technology has cut call set up times to between two and three seconds. VoLTE also offers high-definition voice quality and improves the battery life of smartphones because the devices are permanently connected to the LTE network.

Initially, only owners of Samsung's Galaxy S5 smartphone are able to access the VoLTE feature, but Swisscom said manufacturers including Apple, Sony, Microsoft, HTC and Huawei are preparing software updates that will enable owners to access the service. Those updates are due to be applied during the back-half of the year.

The Wi-Fi calling feature is targeted at users who have weak indoor mobile coverage. The user's smartphone will determine which network is the best and automatically route calls over it. Again, though, users must wait for a manufacturer software update to enable their phone to access the service.

Swisscom added that its LTE network today covers 98 per cent of Switzerland's population, while its WLAN network comprises 2,200 hotspots.

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) in April noted that VoLTE deployments are accelerating throughout the world.

Alan Hadden, the GSA's VP of research, said "twice as many operators are investing in VoLTE compared to a year ago," and that 16 operators in 7 countries had launched HD voice services using the technology, compared to three launches at end-March 2014.

"Many more launches will happen in 2015," Hadden predicted.

For more:
- read Swisscom's announcement
- view this GSA statement

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