Operator now has 900,000 4G customers in UK with 40 per cent coverage who could benefit from calls
Vodafone has successfully conducted its first 4G voice call in its Newbury, Berkshire office – the same location where it received the first ever mobile phone call in 1985.
The operator used Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology to carry the call using their 4G network, which is currently only used for data.
Vodafone says the technology will allow customers to experience clearer and more reliable voice and video calls without impacting data speeds. The technology will also reduce connection speeds, making phone calls instant.
They plan to continue tests with an eye on a commercial release in the future.
Vodafone had initially deterred plans to release VoLTE until 4G penetration reached the levels they desired. They recently expanded coverage to 263 cities, towns and areas as part of a £1 billion UK rollout.
Vodafone CTO Fergal said the introduction of VoLTE shows that Vodafone has been continually developing and investing in its UK network.
‘Our trial of VoLTE, less than a year after the launch of our 4G network, is the next major innovation, and is hugely important as we continue our work to build the UK’s best network,’ he said.
In a blog post, Vodafone discussed the trials and speculated on what benefits VoLTE could give customers.
The blog suggests that 4G calling could help save battery life by reducing the need to switch from 4G to 3G, as well as allowing customers to maintain a data connection while calling.
Vodafone’s Ed Cowmeadow, who worked on the technology, said: ““Modern mobile network technologies use certain ‘modulation schemes’ to transfer data and this means 4G has a much greater ‘spectral efficiency’ than 3G or 2G. Put simply, it means you can do more in a shorter period of time because of the way 4G maximises the use of the radio resources.”
EE has already set out plans to enable calls on 4G from 2015, using its 800MHz spectrum. EE’s LTE network now covers more than 73 percent of the UK population.