Voice over LTE is coming. The three major wireless carriers announced the long-anticipated switch from the traditional method of connecting mobile voice calls just last month. While it may take time for the carriers to roll this out nationally, managers, IT personnel and others involved in their company’s mobile plan should brush up on VoLTE basics well in advance of the transition. Here’s an overview of VoLTE and its implications for businesses.
What is VoLTE?
Until this point all smartphones, though equipped with LTE or 4G broadband based data transfer technology, could not support broadband based phone calls. VoLTE allows mobile voice calls to be made over broadband networks, creating – under the right network conditions – clearer audio and fewer dropped calls. One easy way to think of VoLTE is that it is essentially a VoIP call on your mobile phone. The functionality is still the same, but the data transfers in a faster and more efficient manner.
Why are the carriers making this change?
Essentially, the move to VoLTE is a cost-saving measure. Wireless carriers today often manage two or more networks throughout their coverage areas – one for voice and one for data.
Jeff Quinn, Senior Project Lead, describes how it works, “Cellular networks have been operating on a circuit-switch basis for many years to provide wireless voice calling. About a dozen years ago wireless carriers began offering consumers mobile data access – but leveraging a separate data network to do so. With the completion of LTE network deployments, carriers can begin offering VoLTE which unifies consumer wireless network connectivity demand to just a data network. Eventually most wireless carriers will eliminate the legacy circuit-switch voice networks.”
Though the full impact of VoLTE remains to be seen, we anticipate that network efficiencies will enable more cost-competitive pricing in the future.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit of the VoLTE network is that its users are granted greater coverage, crisper call audio, less dropped calls. HD Voice, as they call it, allows calls made between VoLTE users to have the clearest audio possible, allowing you to hear all the inflections and tones in a person’s voice on the other line.
What should I keep in mind?
At this point in the transition, knowledge and awareness of the impending change are key. Once the transition is complete, some people may not notice when VoLTE begins working on their phone. However, some technical consideration to keep in mind as VoLTE becomes more readily available is that VoLTE is not compatible with all phones. Almost all smart phones will be VoLTE compatible after a quick software update, but older phones may not support the new technology.