Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular to Launch VoLTE Service by 2018: What to Expect?

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Idea Cellular recently joined the bandwagon of notifying its users about shifting its voice call technology to VoLTE (Voice Over LTE). India’s third largest telecom service provider, Idea Cellular, two days ago revealed that it would launch voice over LTE or VoLTE service on its 4G LTE network by early calendar year 2018. The company, however, earlier said that it would introduce VoLTE within 2017 calendar year.


Another telecom operator who is looking to launch VoLTE service is Bharti Airtel. Gopal Vittal, the company's CEO, at the recent earnings call meeting confirmed that the country's leading telecom operator would complete the roll out the pan-India 4G VoLTE service by the end of the financial year 2018 or to be precise by March 2018.

Right now both Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel are offering the voice calls to its 4G subscribers through Circuit Switched Fall Back (CSFB) technology, which can transfer subscribers to the GSM platform to make and receive calls while at the same time retaining the experience of ultra-high speed 4G services. However, deployment of VoLTE will allow Airtel to offer far superior voice quality at lower tariff to their subscribers.

Speaking about Idea Cellular's VoLTE service, the company is currently in words with telecom gear vendors such as Nokia and Ericsson for the deployment of VoLTE services. The operator also revealed that it would deploy a 4G network using 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz spectrum band in five of its leading markets during the current financial year.

It added that the deployment of 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz spectrum band would further boost Idea’s 4G capacity in these key markets. This will also make the job easier for Idea to set up the VoLTE service. That said, Idea hasn't started a trial run like Airtel of the VoLTE yet.

On the flip side, we have Bharti Airtel, which has already completed a trial run of the VoLTE service in five cities of India. Airtel is looking to roll out the service by the end of March 2018, and even Gopal Vittal admitted the same.

At the moment, Reliance Jio is the only operator offering pan-India VoLTE service. This, in turn, led the operator to not charge any amount for voice calls, because it uses data to make or receive voice calls.

Rumours are rife that the VoLTE service from Airtel and Idea Cellular will happen in a phased manner. For example, the brand will launch the service in select circles first, and then expand the service to other circles as well. Having said that, voice calls may become free in Airtel and Idea as well when the services roll out to the general public.

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Telecom Analyst

Passionately following the Indian #Telecom Industry for over a decade from Business, Consumer and a Technical perspective. My primary focus area is Consumer & Digital Experience.

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