Vodafone UK is to launch Wi-Fi Calling and Voice over 4G (VoLTE) this summer it announced today (10 March 2015). Wi-Fi Calling uses an existing Wi-Fi service to automatically provide customers with a voice signal without the need to go through an app. It is particularly suited to customers living in areas where network coverage is limited or where it is difficult to get an indoor signal.
The operator will be trailing rival EE for Wi-Fi Calling. EE has announced that the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Samsung GS6 will be the first devices to take advantage of EE’s WiFi Calling service, launching on 7 April and 10 April respectively. EE says the service will make a big difference for a range of customers, from those in basement flats in city centres to those in the most rural parts of the UK.
Three and O2 already offer Wi-Fi Calling, but users are required to install an app on their phones unlike the approach to be taken by EE and Vodafone.
From summer, Vodafone will also launch Voice over LTE (VoLTE), a universal technology which allows voice calls to be carried across Vodafone’s 4G data network, instead of using the 2G or 3G voice network as they do today. Vodafone has been testing both technologies in its network laboratory for several months. It now intends to start VoLTE user trials ahead of its commercial launch. No UK mobile operator offers VoLTE yet, although both Three and EE are thought to be looking to provide it in 2015.
Jeroen Hoencamp, Vodafone UK chief executive, said, “Our Wi-Fi Calling service will ensure that our customers never miss a call. It is another important step towards our commitment to build the UK’s strongest converged network.”
The rollout of Wi-Fi Calling and VoLTE are part of £1 billion Vodafone is currently spending on its network and services across the UK. It follows the nationwide provision of HD (High Definition) Voice technology, the roll-out of 4G+ (Carrier Aggregation) and the Vodafone Rural Open Sure Signal programme aimed at giving remote communities 3G coverage for the first time.
Vodafone said more information on the service and compatible handsets will be published at launch.