Vodafone said it is the first mobile operator in Portugal to launch voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services, offering improved voice quality and the ability to use voice and data services simultaneously over its 4G network.
The company -- which competes with NOS and MEO on the Portuguese market -- therefore joins a growing number of European operators to offer commercial VoLTE services, although like others it is also limited by the number of available handsets that support the technology.
Vodafone Portugal said the technology would be gradually rolled out to customers, with initial devices including the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. In the coming months, the service will be extended to all manufacturers and models, the operator added.
Vodafone also claimed a VoLTE first in Spain when it launched the service there in July. However, it has been beaten in the UK, where Three UK launched its VoLTE service earlier in September.
Vodafone UK and EE have both said they intend to offer VoLTE services from this summer, but have not provided any further updates on the timing of their respective launches. EE has already launched Wi-Fi calling services, and Vodafone UK is now deploying a nationwide Wi-Fi calling service.
According to a report from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) in July, 103 operators are investing in VoLTE deployments, trials or studies in 49 countries, from which 25 operators in 16 countries have commercially launched VoLTE-based HD voice service, compared to just three launched in March 2014.
In August, Swisscom also said it is the first operator in Europe to combine VoLTE with Wi-Fi calling to overcome weak mobile signals in heavily insulated buildings.
In its recent Mobile Consumer report for the UK, Deloitte said it expects to see a growing proportion of calls carried over voice over Wi-Fi (Vo-WiFi) and VoLTE, as well as existing VoIP apps.
"OTT VoIP may impact operators' bottom line in the long term. However, VoLTE could offset a potential decline in revenue, even if consumers do not end up paying more for VoLTE services," the research company said.
- see the Vodafone Portugal release
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