Technology

VoLTE: Free (finally) opens to voice over 4G

Better late than never. While its competitors have already embraced this technology for several years, now it’s up to Free to announce the upcoming activation of voice over 4G, also known as VoLTE. “We are planning a launch at the end of October,” said operator managing director Thomas Reynaud, at the annual convention around Xavier Niel’s operator this weekend.

This is not the first time that the operator has announced the forthcoming adoption of this very useful function, already adopted in 2015 by Bouygues Telecom, in 2016 by Orange and in 2017 by SFR. Already in 2018, the operator’s staff announced through the voice of their boss Xavier Niel the arrival of VoLTE … without this announcement being translated into facts, at least until now.

Standardized in 2014 by the GSMA, which groups together suppliers of equipment and manufacturers of telecommunications terminals, this VoIP-type technique (for Voice over IP) optimized for mobile telephony allows, in compatible LTE (or 4G) networks, to keep the connection to the The 4G network and associated data streams during an IP call. Remember that on unsupported LTE networks, voice over IP calls must switch to 2G or 3G type networks, which implies a temporary cutoff of the 4G connection for the duration of the call (then it is impossible to surf the Internet via 4G during a phone call).

A feature now widely available

The VoLTE technique, for its part, uses an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture and a SIP protocol to hold calls directly on the LTE network. By combining 4G and data, LTE can be used to carry voice through an evolution of infrastructure. The advantages of voice over LTE are not insignificant, especially due to the speed of telephone call establishment: we went from 8 to 9 seconds to initiate a call today to 2 seconds. Also, the quality of communication is greatly affected by switching to high definition.

Why ? Because it is no longer necessary to switch to 3G for voice, everything goes through 4G. Last but not least, VoLTE allows the user to call and use data services (surf the Internet, download, share, etc.) at the same time, which was previously impossible.

The fact that your operator offers a plan that includes VoLTE does not necessarily mean that you will be able to use it. It depends on the technology of your smartphone, not all of them are compatible. At Apple, for example, the iPhone supports LTE recognition (as long as you have iOS installed, as of version 9.3). At Samsung, the Galaxy family is also concerned, while at Sony it is the Xperia family that supports LTE and at Motorola the entire Moto family. Among the Chinese we find the Huawei brand, but also Honor, Xiaomi and OPPO.

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