At a time when Mukesh Ambani’s Jio has gone all in on VoLTE to deliver voice calling on its end to end IP network, and younger brother’s Rcom planning to follow suit by year end, largest telecom operator Airtel isn’t much interested in deploying VoLTE solution anytime soon.
During an analyst call, answering questions on VoLTE, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO – India and South Asia – Bharti Airtel said that they would not be looking at deploying voice over LTE (VoLTE).
“We do not feel the desperate need to do it right now because we have legacy network which delivers voice well, but we will at the right point in time, we will look at testing it and so on and so forth,” he said.
Pointing out the key reason behind the decision, he said that VoLTE works well in sub-GHz spectrum and that would be crucial for its wide scale adoption. Currently, Bharti Airtel has deployed 4G on only 1800 Mhz and 2300 Mhz across India where they are using Circuit Switching Fallback Technology (CSFB) to offer voice calls through legacy networks.
”I think what will determine that is the ubiquity of 4G coverage as also sub-GHz spectrum that is good for running VoLTE networks, our experience from around the world suggests that when you do not have sub-GHz band then typically VoLTE does not work as well, so we will have to look at that a little more carefully. He further added.
While Jio is taking the benefits of deploying VoLTE through which it offers much better voice clarity, Airtel seems to be working with network vendors to improve voice call quality by adding more towers and through dual band 3G networks in key circles like Mumbai. The company is also optimizing their networks to improve overall network quality.