German operator Deutsche Telekom said it is testing Voice over New Radio (VoNR) with 5G in the city of Merseburg, in Saxony-Anhalt. VoNR should provide a better quality of calls than its predecessor, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), as well as cut call set-up time and avoid having to switch the voice connection automatically back to LTE when data is being exchanged in parallel via 5G. Telekom is using different voice samples in different languages to measure voice quality in the test area in Merseburg and is also deploying vehicles to measure the quality of 5G in the test area.
The operator is also carrying out measurements at various points within the area. For this reason it has set up nine mobile antennas in the city transmitting in the 5G or New Radio spectrum at 3.6 GHz. It has also started to operate four small sites enabling high bandwidths in particularly busy locations.
During the last several years, VoLTE has become the industry standard for mobile voice calls, enabling calls to be made at the highest possible sound quality and without interrupting a smartphone’s data connection. The successor technology to VoLTE is VoNR, which accomplishes some of the same goals with respect to 5G rather than 4G/LTE.
Much as VoLTE is also known as HD calling, VoNR provides an even higher quality of sound transmission. More importantly, it allows a smartphone to continue using 5G data even while the voice call is proceeding, without requiring the device to bump down to 4G. The technology that Deutsche Telekom is now trialing is desirable not only on its own merits but also as a stage in the development of the whole 5G environment, insofar as most operators have been using 5G on non-standalone networks, which are still based on LTE. By using 5G for telephony as well as for data, VoNR systems will help 5G declare independence for LTE and reach fulfillment as a mature network technology.
In addition, we might mention that the drive for better and better quality in voice calling is an indication that despite the data revolution and the popularity of text-based messaging, voice is still very much in demand. Therefore, it is in the interest of mobile operators to provide their subscribers with the best possible experience when making voice calls, as regards quality as well as full integration with data signals. VoNR seems likely to be able to make this promise a reality.