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Smart Makes First Voice Over LTE Call in Philippines

Smart Makes First Voice Over LTE Call in Philippines

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications and its technology partner Ericsson recently made the first successful mobile call using the Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) technology in the Philippines.

In a statement Monday, Smart said this development would help further improve the quality of voice calls amid its ongoing LTE deployment in the country.

VoLTE utilizes 4G in transmitting voice calls which requires robust and widespread LTE coverage.

Since LTE — a technology built primarily for data — is very efficient in carrying data traffic, subscribers are assured that calls transmitted over LTE have clear quality with no background noises. 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.

Mobile users with VoLTE-capable devices to stay on the 4G/LTE network even when making or receiving calls. Thus, subscribers may 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 separate over the top (OTT) application. This ensures direct, global reach similar to mobile phone services today unlike OTTs that require both caller and receiver to be on the same app.

“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. 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,Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart, said.

“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,” Horn added.

Sean Gowran, Head of Ericsson Philippines and Pacific Islands, said, “This partnership with Smart in making the first live VoLTE capability available in the Philippines helps reinforce Smart’s technology leadership in mobile communications and its commitment to bring the best customer experience to its subscribers in the country. With the introduction of VoLTE, Smart will ensure and further enhance voice quality, while also enabling a broader range of communication capabilities.”

Horn explained that VoLTE will take time to be fully deployed in the country as mobile handsets are either too expensive or manufacturers are still to activate the feature on their existing advanced models.

However, the successful trials conducted by Smart and Ericsson on video over LTE using the built-in calling functionality of a smartphone provides another reason to further ramp up its rollout of LTE across the country.

“The excellent results of these tests provide 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,” according to Horn.

Smart is in the middle of a three-year program to provide LTE coverage in 95 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities. This rapid deployment will make Smart’s LTE service available to 97 percent of the country’s population, or to users in 1,551 cities and municipalities across the country by end-2018.

According to Horn, LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable, and reliable Internet services to as many customers as possible, as more LTE devices becomes available in the market. LTE also provides the platform that will easily allow Smart users to step up to even more advanced technologies like LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

Smart was also the first operator to offer LTE-A in the Philippines last year, when it demonstrated the capability of high-speed mobile Internet through Carrier Aggregation in Boracay.

Now available in urban areas like Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, and in greater Metro Manila, Smart’s LTE-A delivers peak speeds of over 100 Mbps to users with LTE-A capable devices.

“We are constantly looking ahead to anticipate the ever increasing demands of our customers, and to deliver our services in the best possible quality. Our initiatives in LTE-A, in VoLTE, and eventually in 5G, will allow us to do just that,” said Horn. (PNA)ABP