Smart taps Ericsson to offer new voice calls

Smart Communications Inc. said it teamed up with Ericsson to offer mobile calls using Voice over Long-Term Evolution  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,” Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT Inc. and Smart said. “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,” Horn said.

Sean Gowran, head of Ericsson Philippines and Pacific Islands said the partnership with Smart in making the first live VoLTE capability available in the Philippines would help reinforce Smart’s technology leadership in mobile communications and its commitment to bring the best customer experience to subscribers.

“With the introduction of VoLTE, Smart will ensure and further enhance voice quality, while also enabling a broader range of communication capabilities,” Gowran said.

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.

“We have completed a number of key improvement projects in the last few months, and these have turned our network into a strong platform for offering advanced, purely digital services, such as VoLTE,” said Horn.

He said as LTE―a technology built primarily for data―was very efficient in carrying data traffic, a voice call transmitted over LTE would be 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 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. 

Smart and Ericsson successfully tested video over LTE, using the built-in calling functionality of a smartphone.

“It will take a little time for VoLTE to be fully deployed, largely because capable handsets are either still too expensive, or manufacturers have yet to activate this feature in their existing advanced models. But the excellent results of these tests provides another reason for us to pursue our aggressive LTE roll-out across the Philippines, since ubiquitous LTE coverage is a clear pre-requisite to VoLTE adoption,” said Horn.

Topics: Smart Communications Inc. , Ericsson , Voice over Long-Term Evolution , VoLTE , new voice calls
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