Optus enables VoLTE 4G voice calling

Alex Kidman 9 May 2016

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Optus has rolled out Voice over LTE services on its networks in most of Australia’s capital cities.

If you’re an Optus postpaid or SMB customer in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Canberra, you may start to notice a change in the way that your smartphone makes and takes calls, as Optus has announced that it's starting to roll out Voice over LTE services in those capitals. Hobart and Darwin aren’t in that group, and neither is much of regional Australia, but Optus indicates that it’s keen to progress the rollout of VoLTE to additional areas over time.

So what’s so special about VoLTE? The traditional split for voice and data services has seen data travel over Australia’s increasingly fast 4G LTE networks, while voice services have largely been relegated to 3G networks. VoLTE switches that up, offering voice services over the full 4G network of the carrier you’re connected to, as distinct from dropping to 3G while calling, which is what happens with standard calling provisioning. If you put your phone to your ear while calling you might not notice this, but if you multi-task by checking other details while on a call, you may find other data-centric services markedly slowing down if you have to drop to 3G.

In order to actually use VoLTE services, you’ll need a VoLTE compatible handset of course. At the moment that’s largely the province of more premium handsets such as the iPhone 6s or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Optus isn’t the first to offer VoLTE services, as they’re already live on Telstra’s network from last year. Telstra plans to incorporate Video calling over LTE later this year, while Vodafone commenced rollout of VoLTE services in December last year.

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