Bharti Airtel is trying to match the new entrant Reliance Jio is every aspect possible. Airtel, after matching Jio in the tariff plans segment is now looking to take on the latter by rolling out VoLTE services. According to our sources, Airtel is currently working with various smartphones vendors to test the service.
Our sources also said that Airtel has done with deploying the required infrastructure for the service, but is conducting service trails before rolling out the service. The service will be launched in the major markets and later on will be expanded to other cities as well.
Currently, Airtel is testing the service in various Indian 4G handsets that are already available in the market, and it is also said that some smartphones have passed the test successfully. So, expect a roll out shortly.
Last year, Airtel handed over a contract to Finnish brand Nokia to deploy the VoLTE infrastructure in the country. With Airtel scrapping the domestic roaming, the rollout of VoLTE services might happen next month itself.
Airtel is currently offering voice calling on the legacy circuit-switch technology. "VoLTE will be very relevant in the major markets or big cities in next 12-18 months, and even as the sub-GHz band is best in deploying voice, the 1800MHz band is also excellent, " claimed Gopal Vittal, some months ago.
As of now, Jio is the only operator in India to offer VoLTE services, with which the Mukesh Ambani-led company is providing free voice calls to any network in India. The decision to offer free voice calls was backfired then by the incumbent operators, but they are now looking to implement the same service. Incidentally, Reliance Jio's VoLTE services are deployed using Nokia's IMS technology.
Besides Airtel, Vodafone India also said to be working on the VoLTE services, and the roll out might happen by the end of this year. Idea Cellular also in talks with Ericsson and Nokia to award a deal for deploying the service.