PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications (Smart), together with its technology partner Ericsson, recently made the Philippines’ first successful mobile call using Voice over Long-Term Evolution (LTE), or VoLTE.
“We are excited to be the first network in the country to successfully use VoLTE, because this technology holds so much promise in terms of improving the quality of mobile service available to our customers. 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,” said Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart.
As the name implies, 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 ubiquitous LTE coverage.
Built for the future
Since LTE — a technology built primarily for data — is very efficient in carrying data traffic, a voice call transmitted over LTE is of crystal clear quality, with almost no background noise. Devices with built-in VoLTE capability will natively support it, and will not require a separate, over-the-top (OTT) application. It also guarantees direct, global reach similar to the phone services of today, unlike OTTs that require both caller and receiver to be on the same app.
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.
Currently offered by only a handful of leading operators in the world, VoLTE will also allow Smart subscribers to make video calls without tapping a third-party, OTT app. In the same trials, Smart and Ericsson successfully tested video over LTE, using the built-in calling functionality of a smartphone.