VoLTE to supercharge voice calls on Vodafone, Telstra

Mobiles may now be built to handle high-speed data, but this high-speed Long Term Evolution connection we use for data can also be tapped for voice.

It’s a concept that could change the way we talk, with the 4G data connection know as “LTE” providing a conduit for high quality voice transmissions, not just for accessing social media, email, web browsing, or YouTube, and it’s going to be activated soon for quite a few Australians.

Back in September, Telstra blogged about it, with the company’s Mike Wright writing that it would be “progressively enabling the new 4G Calling capability” which is what VoLTE technically is, making it accessible “Telstra Mobile Post-Paid consumer customers with a compatible mobile handset to use 4G Calling”.

Speaking to Telstra about it, GadgetGuy was told that VoLTE “is being rolled out progressively to preserve the customer experience”, with post-paid customers getting the opportunity first.

Vodafone has also chimed in announcing it too will be supporting the technology, with postpaid customers set to get VoLTE shortly.

“For customers with capable devices, VoLTE will mean an enhanced call experience including shorter call set up times as well as longer battery life on some smartphones,” said Benoit Janssen, Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone.

“VoLTE not only allows users to stay on 4G during a voice call, they can also multi-task by continuing to use 4G data services such as web browsing while making or receiving a call.”

According to Vodafone, the telco has a timeframe of “before Christmas” for when the company expects the technology to be activated, but it won’t be every postpaid customer on the telco.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 will be one of the first devices to get VoLTE support on Vodafone.

Rather, it will be for devices from Samsung’s 2015 slate to begin with, starting with the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and Galaxy Note 5. If you have one of those and a postpaid subscription, you’ll be getting the VoLTE access first, though you may only pick up on the differences when connecting to someone else through another VoLTE device, meaning the person on the other end of the call needs the same VoLTE support and access, too.

“It’s a really exciting change for the network, as this is the first step to moving all voice traffic over to 4G,” said Hanssen.

It does need to be said that more devices than just Samsung’s 2015 models support VoLTE, with the Apple iPhone 6, 6s, and Plus variations being equipped to handle the technology, while LG’s G3 and G4 both work with VoLTE, as does Sony’s Z3 and Z3 Compact devices.

Connectivity, however, isn’t just dependent on the device supporting the technology, but rather the telco making settings for the device that can patch up the mobile to make use of the technology.

That means that even if you have a VoLTE-enabled device, you will need to wait for your telco to release the settings to your smartphone before you can get in and start making VoLTE calls.

For Telstra and Vodafone, that should be soon, but what about Australia’s other large major mobile network: what about Optus?

An Optus spokesperson told GadgetGuy that “Optus is well advanced in the development of VoLTE capability” and that the company is “currently testing VoLTE, and have successfully conducted VoLTE test calls with commercial devices.”

That spokesperson also told GadgetGuy that Optus VoLTE would arrive some time next year, so if you’re on that network, expect it in 2016, just behind the likes of Telstra and Vodafone.