India’s largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel is planning to offer VoLTE services to its customers from next week, according to latest news reports. The company plans to use Airtel VoLTE services for voice calling similar to Jio using the same 4G technology. Earlier in July, the CEO and managing director of Airtel – Gopal Vittal told the analysts that Airtel will launch VoLTE services by March 2018 and will work with phone manufacturers to come up with new low-cost 4G feature phones.
What is VoLTE
Voice over Long-Term Evolution is standard for high-speed wireless communication based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network, with specific profiles for media and control plans of voice service on LTE as defined by GSMA in PRD IR.92. VoLTE allows the mobile operator to provide both data and voice calling services without switching between bands, with voice being just another application that runs using the 4G LTE network.
An important advantage of the Voice Over LTE technology is that it provides better audio clarity through high definition calling feature. Also, it uses the same 4G data network for making calls instead of using the typical cellular network. Though there are speculations prevailing around the telecom sector that all voice calls could be made free in future since VoLTE calls use only the 4G data network, there are no official confirmations from any Mobile operator regarding the same.
Airtel Nokia Deal
Airtel is one of the forerunners to adopt this latest technology and is all set to compete with the rival Reliance Jio. Bharti Airtel signed a Pan-India deal last year with Finnish Telecommunications giant Nokia for implementing VoLTE technology in a whopping deal of $60 million. Airtel has already done trials for their VoLTE services in five major Indian Cities. The company plans to inaugurate it’s Voice over LTE services initially in Mumbai which will be followed by Kolkatta and other Metropolitan cities. A top executive from the company told in an Investor call that VoLTE will be implemented in the key Indian markets in next 12-18 months. He also assured that Airtel will expand it’s VoLTE services across the country in this fiscal year.
Mukesh Ambani owned Jio has created a huge storm among the mobile operators by offering free VoLTE calls along with unlimited data to their customers during their initial launch in Sep 2016. Their user base has skyrocketed to 130 million within a year, which is a remarkable achievement. At present, Reliance Jio is the only Indian operator which offers VoLTE services using 4G network. They also launched their 4G Jio feature phone in August which has received a huge interest from the public with more than 6 million pre-bookings as of today. The delivery of these 4G Jio phones will begin from Sep 21.
Now with Airtel also launching their own VoLTE services, there will be a tough competition between Jio and Airtel. Airtel officials told that some customers in Kolkatta and Mumbai where Airtel plans to launch their services initially, will get SMS to activate VoLTE calls on their mobiles.