In this blog we are going to explain everything about VoLTE and its concept,advantages,disadvantages,when will VoLTE launch in Nepal,which operator will launch VoLTE in Nepal, what to do to use VoLTE and many more.
1. What is VoLTE?
VoLTE is the Voice over LTE network. The analogy is VOIP also known as Voice Over Internet Protocol. In simple term, our regular voice call that we do using our cell phones will be carried in the form of packets like in skype,viber,etc in LTE network only. Before, our voice calls used circuit switching and was assigned dedicated bandwidth for voice call. Circuit switching is a method of implementing a telecommunications network in which two network nodes(mobile phones) establish a dedicated communications channel (circuit) through the network before the nodes may communicate. It’s like using our landline phone because for each landline user there is fixed connection and fixed route. However, in circuit switching in cell phones, dedicated path is released after call is disconnected.
Now, our voice calls will be broken into hundred of small fragment called packets. Packets are small data size containing various information like source and destination IP addresses along with error controlling bit, guard bit,etc like in above figure. So, now after using VoLTE, our each and every voice packets will be assigned an source IP addresses and the destination IP addresses. So,our voice packets will be sent to destination user using the destination IP address. By all means, each packet can reach to destination user using different route and path which was not possible in circuit switching.
2. Do VoLTE works in 2G/3G?
VoLTE only works in LTE network. LTE is the Long Term Evolution network defined by the 3GPP. 3GPP is the (3G) third generation partnership project(PP) focused in enhancing the 3G network to meet the higher data speed. It is the joint organization formed by primarily 7 telecom operator like AT&T, Nokia, Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Motorola and many more.
In 2G/3G network, voice is not transmitted over packet form rather it is transmitted using circuit switching. So 2G/3G network cannot support voice to be transmitted by packets. Only LTE supports voice to be sent in the form of packets. Moreover, in LTE network also, to support VoLTE, telecom operators must installed equipment’s supporting VoLTE service. Alongside, user equipment’s like mobile phones must support VoLTE. For two users to communicate in VoLTE, both user equipment’s must be in LTE and support VoLTE otherwise VoLTE won’t work.
In Nepal, three telecom operators Nepal Telecom, Ncell and Smart Telecom are providing LTE network but they are not providing VoLTE service. So, if our cell phones is latched to LTE network and voice call takes place then our cell phones will be latched to either 2G or 3G, disconnecting from 4G. And after voice call ends, again phone will be connected to 4G/LTE. This will be overcome if LTE network supports VoLTE.
3. Advantages and Disadvantages of VoLTE:
There are numerous advantages of VoLTE over its minimal disadvantages. We will discuss each of them in details:
The major and dominant advantages of VoLTE are discussed here:
i. HD Calls Quality:
VoLTE uses packet to transmit voice. LTE have high speed data transfer rate of maximum 100 Mbps. So using the same speed, the voice quality will be 3 times higher than 3G and 6 times higher than 2G. So, our voice call will be crystal clear with reducing in background noise, lower interference and high SNR(Signal to Noise Ratio).
ii. Voice and Data at a Time:
VoLTE supports voice and data to be transmitted at a time. This reduces fall back to 2G/3G for voice calls and hence support voice to be sent along with data. So this helps to browse internet while making phone calls.
iii. Better Battery Life:
Whenever we make voice calls in LTE, the network drops to 2G or 3G inorder to make it happen, but in VoLTE, the network won’t drop and would make calls automatically in same LTE network. So the signalling channel needed to setup to fall in 2G/3G and again reconnect to 4G will consume more battery. So in VoLTE, this is saved and enhance battery life of user equipment’s(mobile).
In VoLTE, voice calls are cheaper than using in circuit switching technology. VoLTE uses data and saves dedicated bandwidth which was impossible in older technology. So effective use of bandwidth leads to cheaper voice calls with superior quality.
v. Faster call setup time:
In circuit switching, the call setup time is almost about 6 seconds. But in VoLTE, call setup time decreases to as low as 1 seconds. So the users connected in VoLTE would receive calls just in a second. This is one of the best advantages the VoLTE have ever given.
vi. Video Calling:
Do you remember using FaceTime for video calling from iPhone? If yes, then the VoLTE supports live video calling with HD quality using the inbuilt apps through its network. So for video calling, we don’t need to open extra apps like Viber, Skype, Imo, etc.
With regard to huge advantages there are also some drawbacks of VoLTE which are discussed below:
i. Not all smartphones support VoLTE:
This is not actually the drawbacks but if VoLTE is enabled in network then customers also need to buy the VoLTE enabled smartphones to used it. So buying VoLTE enabled smartphone would cost higher. Indeed, all the available smartphones don’t support VoLTE.
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4. How to connect and use VoLTE? What are the requirements?
In order to use VoLTE services, both the telecom operator and user equipment’s like mobile phone must support VoLTE. For instance, our voice should be broken down into packets and sent over the network, so for this the user handset must perform above task. Normally, except voice calls, other data are sent via packets in LTE but to encode/decode our voice signals into packets, it required a special hardware and software. So these encoding and decoding features enabled devices are the VoLTE supporting user equipment’s. So before buying any Personal Digital Assistant(PDA) like cell phones,tablets,etc make sure to check whether your PDA’s support VoLTE or not. Also, you can check it online using different website or through the manufacturer website.
On the other end, telecom operator must also need to deploy the software and hardware that supports the VoLTE protocol.
5. When will VoLTE launch in Nepal?
Currently, three telecom operators Nepal telecom, Ncell and Smart cell are providing 4G/LTE services. Recently, another operator, CG Telecom have done agreement with Huawei for 4G expansion.But these three, haven’t yet provided the VoLTE services. The reason may be because the cost to launch VoLTE in network would cost high. In addition, to use this service, customers must also have VoLTE supportable equipment’s.
In Nepal, 4G/LTE is in growing phase. Nepal Telecom is expanding 4G in whole Nepal and expected to complete within 2019. Whereas, Ncell is ahead in LTE as comparing to NT and Smarttel. Not only that, it have cross over 1000 places reaching all seven provenience. While smartcell is also expanding its network.
According to Gokul Baskota, spokesperson of Nepal government, Nepal Telecom will launch VoLTE after expanding 4G in whole region. Subsequently, he added,” Nepal telecom is committed to provide latest generation technology”. From this statement, we can conclude that, NT is likely to launch VoLTE in near future or lets say by 2020.
On the other hand Chaudhary Group, CG Telecom chairperson Binod Chaudhary said “they will provide free voice calls after the launch of 4G and will expand to 5G in near future.” Currently, CG telecom have done $100 million contract with Huawei for BTS establishment. CG Telecom is likely to complete its BTS work within a year.
Finally, Nepal Telecom, NT have successfully tested the VoLTE service for the first time in Nepal in mid July 2019. So, now its time to see when will NT officially provide the voice over LTE services to its customers.
Above all, in conclusion, there is not any formal statement issued from any of the telecom operator. But, if four telecom operators came in battle, they will likely to adopt VoLTE to gain monopoly in market as done by Jio in India.