Telia Norway believes the time is now right to launch voice over LTE (VoLTE), because the number of compatible handsets has reached a tipping point.
In an announcement (in Norwegian), the operator stated that VoLTE will deliver several benefits to its subscribers, including improved sound quality, a reduction in the airtime used on calls from between 5 and 10 seconds to around 1 second, better coverage for voice calls, faster web browsing during calls and reduced battery consumption.
The operator’s statement expanded on the web browsing element, explaining that VoLTE will allow subscribers to access its 4G network at all times. That is a contrast to the current set-up where handsets revert back to 2G or 3G to handle calls, resulting in the web service also shifting back to a 3G connection at best.
Jon Christian Hillestad, technical director at Telia Norway, said the deployment of VoLTE is another feather in the operator’s cap, after it consistently topped surveys for the quality of its data-only 4G network during 2016. “Telia’s 4G network has coverage, speed and quality that is truly equipped to maximise the new technology’s potential,” he said.
Telia Norway is pressing ahead with its VoLTE deployment because there are now a sufficient number of smartphones in the market capable of accessing the technology, Hillestad explained.
The operator will initially offer the service to subscribers with Sony, Samsung and Apple smartphones. Specifically:
- Sony Z5, Z5 Compact and Z5 Premium
- Apple iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus and SE
- Samsung S6 and S6 Edge
Subscribers with those devices will automatically be upgraded to VoLTE by the end of the year. Telia Norway then plans to expand availability to other smartphones in 2017.
Telia Norway explained that its VoLTE service will operate in the 800 MHz frequency band, which should ensure good quality indoor reception.
Research company IHS Technology in June predicted that the number of global VoLTE users will hit 1 billion by 2020, as the pace of network deployments accelerates. It noted that 23 networks launched in the first half of 2016, which was equal to the total number of launches in 2014.