Mobile operator 3 UK has launched the country’s first VoLTE service and is calling it “4G Super Voice.” The service is carried over the 800 MHz spectrum, whose wavelength is particularly effective at penetrating walls. It also carries farther, which is useful in reaching remote rural areas. 3 CTO Bryn Jones told reporters, “Indoor coverage across the industry is always the hardest problem to solve, so all networks, whether it’s 2G, 3G or 4G will always have coverage blackspots.” The operator said that 4G Super Voice already covers half of the U.K.’s population for indoor coverage and over three quarters of the cities of London, Birmingham, Exeter and Edinburgh. The rollout is continuing in Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff. Handsets supporting 800 MHz include the Samsung Galaxy 5, LG G4, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Customers must update their software to the latest version to use 4G Super Voice. Rival operators EE and O2 are now trialing VoLTE.
VoLTE has generally been spoken of as a boon to users in terms of voice quality and a boon to operators in terms of simplification and economies of scale. However, this example shows that VoLTE also has advantages in dealing with the problem of “not-spots,” which has been particularly persistent in the U.K. VoLTE, once criticized as unnecessary, is proving not only desirable but necessary in many markets, and we expect it to become dominant before long.