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What is VoLTE? The missing iPhone 6 feature in the UK

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EE LTE

Clearing up what VoLTE means for the future of phone calls

Among their many exciting features, the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus both support VoLTE. But just what exactly is VoLTE, and how can you make use of it?

The answer to those questions concerns the future of voice calls on your phone. It's a future that should sound very good indeed.

VoLTE definition

VoLTE stands for Voice over Long Term Evolution, which sounds like gibberish when you spell it out like that, doesn't it?

A more helpful way to put it is simply Voice over LTE. LTE is the mobile network standard employed for 4G connectivity. It enables huge bandwidth and vastly improved data speeds when doing anything internety on your smartphone.

VoLTE, then, is a technology that harnesses this extra capacity to enable you to make superior voice calls over a 4G network connection.

What are the real-world benefits?

You know that distant, cold, slightly fuzzy tone that 3G and even landline voice calls have? That's gone with VoLTE, with calls sounding far more natural and easy-on-the-ear.

Think of it as an HD voice call.

Also, VoLTE enables calls to be connected around twice as fast as equivalent 2G or 3G calls, so there'll be far less waiting around.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone lte

The introduction of VoLTE will boost network coverage for voice calls. There are some areas where only 4G is available and 2G and 3G signals don't make it through, thanks to the different frequency 4G operates at. With voice calling enabled across all three network types, you'll be laughing. But mostly talking.

Finally, VoIP should be good for your smartphone's battery life. Presuming you spend most of your time in a 4G area, your phone currently has to keep switching back to 3G when you want to make calls. This is a real power sapper. VoIP calls will mean that your phone won't have to do this quite so much.

Is it anything like VoIP?

Kind of, but VoLTE has the potential to be much, much better. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) enables you to make voice calls over a regular internet data connection.

If you've ever used Skype or FaceTime to carry out a voice call, you know what this is like. It's generally better quality than your normal 3G calls, but with the odd annoying drop in connection when an information packet goes missing.

VoLTE will offer a more consistent, stable, and altogether more seamless experience by employing an IP Multimedia Subsystem and fancy circuit switch technology.

It's not available in the UK - yet

Before you get too excited, know that VoLTE is only available certain countries at present. The US and Singapore have it, for example, but not the UK.

However, back in June, EE - the UK's biggest, 4Gest mobile network - announced that it would be trialling the technology in this country in the second half of 2014.

EE

"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," said EE. We sincerely hope it will do a lot more than "match" 2G's quality, or this whole VoLTE thing will be for nought.

Vodafone announced its own internal trials back at the beginning of August.

Essentially, UK 4G users should hope to see VoLTE support rolling out in this country some time in 2015. If it's not with us by 2016, we'll be very miffed indeed.

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verygoodbrother

September 23, 2014, 7:49 pm

So VoLTE only became relevant to report on because the iphone 6 finally has it (considering the 5s had it)? This Apple flattery is becoming tiring. Competitors are also advancing technology but get no look because they are not Apple. Tech writers need to impartial and factual information to consumers to make informed decisions about all brands available and not just Apple.

Oberoth

September 23, 2014, 8:11 pm

What ever happened to Orange's HD Voice???

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/tech...

wobbs1676

September 24, 2014, 7:37 am

This tech has nothing to do with Apple other than the fact the phone supports it but so does a GS5 & LG G2 and a few other Android LTE phones. Please TR give a fair unbiased view and stop plugging Apple products

Anthony Maxwell

September 24, 2014, 1:08 pm

I think the point is that it takes an Apple endorsement for other companies to really take an interest in something. Take Apple Pay. Nothing new about NFC; but it took a company like Apple to get other companies to really use it. Same with this VoLTE isn't new. but in the past year service providers have been preparing trials. it's not an Apple plug. But having something like NFC on my HTC is useless unless I've got something for it to work with. If Apple have finally got other businesses on board you should be celebrating, not bitching.

Wayne Koppa

September 24, 2014, 3:33 pm

VoLTE doesn't interest me since data is very expensive on phones right now. I was hoping for VoIP where I could make a phone call over any wireless without using any app. Just dial a number and it's being used.

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