EE has confirmed that it is to trial both Wi-Fi and 4G calls in the UK, with the test services to kick off later this year.
A move which will dramatically improve audio quality and reduce the number of dropped calls, the initiative will also help bring the network’s 4G platform to more rural areas of the UK, as well as allow consumers to make high quality calls whenever, and wherever they are connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Although 4G plans are now widely available across the UK, at present those with 4G tariffs still see their calls pushed back to the existing 3G and 2G networks as the UK’s 4G infrastructure only supports data.
Part of a wider £275 million investment initiative into improving voice capabilities, the 4G calling trials from EE will see more than 6,000 2G sites upgraded and help expand the company’s 4G network into less urban areas of the UK, with first trials later this year to be focused on rural Oxfordshire.
“4G calling, or VoLTE, is an exciting technology that we’re going to be trialling in the coming months using our low frequency spectrum, bringing one of the world’s best voice and data services to a part of rural Britain that has previously been unconnected,” Fotis Karonis, EE’s Chief Technical Officer said.
“When we have rigorously tested the performance of 4G calling and made sure that it matches our 2G and 3G quality, we’ll launch it nationwide on our 4G network.”
EE says it expects its 4G calls to be rolled out at some point in 2015 following a substantial test later this year.
More importantly though, EE is looking to turn your home and office Wi-Fi networks into a means of making easy, high quality calls.
Far from going head-to-head with the likes of VoIP provider Skype, EE’s Wi-Fi calling will automatically see your standard calls – or SMS messages – pushed to Wi-Fi when connected to a stable network.
“Our WiFi calling capability will let customers make calls where they have access to WiFi but not to the mobile network,” Karonis stated.
“The customer experience is seamless because it’s the same as making a network call and uses the normal call interface of the handset.
“This is a major part of our strategy to invest in giving customers the ability to make a call wherever they are, and we’re confident that this service can make a big difference to people in homes and large offices across the country, especially in the most rural areas, that don’t have mobile coverage.”
According to the pioneering network, it will launch its Wi-Fi calling service this autumn for use with “the latest handsets capable of supporting the service.”
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