Seamless integration of Wi-Fi and 4G will be possible within two years
Telefonica engineers are trialling a new level of network resilience that will seamlessly merge wi-fi with 4G to give customers ultra-reliable voice calls that can be connected the instant a call is initiated.
The technology was revealed at Mobile World Congress by Telefonica chief technology officer Enrique Blanca and is currently being trialled on an Ericsson 4G network using advanced Qualcomm-powered smartphones from LG. Sony, and Samsung.
Blanco said the service has the working title of VoLTE ( voice over LTE). At the core of the technology is the ability to set up a 4G voice call over data instead of by the slower circuit switched technology by which voice calls are currently handled.
The chief benefits to the customer are a 40 percent improvement in voice quality and connections made 20 times faster than a standard 3G call. The technology could be available in a year and would enable smartphone and tablet users to be fed data seamlessly between wifi and 4G without losing a signal.
“We should not overlook the fact that voice will play a key role in the delivery of future multimedia services. to this end we are demonstrating the most advanced voice over 4G tests ever conducted,” said Blanco.
Blanco said Wi-Fi’s value will only be realised when it integrates seamlessly and transparently with 4G. This means users not having to think about when a call leaves a 4G area and swaps to a wifi signal. Nor will users have to type in authenticating passwords to log onto a wifi service to handle their 4G call mis-stream.
While the system is technically possible the merging of wifi and network 4G voice calls throws up questions of how each component of the call will be billed.