VoLTE explained – Better voice calling on 4G

MTN recently announced it had launched a new Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) service on its network.

The company branded its new service as “HD Voice” and said it would allow customers to benefit from clearer, more natural calls and faster voice call connection time.

MTN will roll out its HD Voice product in phases, beginning in September 2018 with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, Huawei P20 Lite, Sony Xperia XZ2, and CAT S61 handsets.

To enable this service, customers are required to update their smartphones with the latest software update, after which their device will be automatically configured with support for HD Voice.

More smartphones will receive support for MTN’s HD Voice service from October 2018.

For those wondering what exactly a VoLTE service is and how it works, we have outlined the basics below.

What is it?

VoLTE shares a lot of characteristics with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and is used in a similar fashion, namely to migrate traditional audio communication functions to a data-only network.

The protocol essentially allows you to make standard calls on an LTE data network without requiring you to connect to older network technologies.

If you are using a non-VoLTE-enabled device or your mobile network does not yet support the technology, you are currently making calls by connecting to older cellular networks like 2G and 3G.

The installation and enabling process for VoLTE will depend on your specific device and on your mobile network.

For example, when Vodacom launched VoLTE for the iPhone 6 and 7 last year, users could simply update to the latest version of iOS and and navigate to Settings to complete a carrier update.

VoLTE could possibly be expanded in future to add native support for video calling and other data-driven communications features for customers, but this has not yet been implemented in South Africa.

It is important to note that in an area without 4G coverage, voice calls from VoLTE-enabled devices will still take advantage of 2G and 3G networks as normal.

Benefits of VoLTE

There are many benefits of VoLTE for consumers, including allowing them to enjoy better calls. Standard call pricing still applies, however.

VoLTE results in much better call quality due to the higher maximum bandwidth delivered by a 4G voice connection, making MTN’s “HD Voice” branding a relatively fitting label for the service.

Additionally, you will be able to place calls twice as fast on VoLTE compared to standard calls on 2G and 3G networks.

This is especially true if you are already connected to a 4G network, as your device’s radio hardware will not need to switch to an older network just to place a voice call and then switch back.

The switching between older and newer networks could technically have an effect on battery life if done often, too, meaning that VoLTE may actually improve your battery life if you are a regular caller.

Another advantage of VoLTE is that no matter how bad the 2G and 3G coverage or congestion is in your area, you will be able to place clear and high-quality voice calls as long as you have good 4G coverage.

This is good news, as 4G coverage is increasing rapidly in heavily-populated areas in South Africa.

Now read: Here it is – Rain Mobile’s true network performance

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VoLTE explained – Better voice calling on 4G