Bharti Airtel to move to VoLTE for voice service in key markets soon: CEO Gopal Vittal tells investors

India’s leading telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, said that it will launch voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology in key markets in the next 12-18 months. The move will be aimed at countering Reliance Jio, which is currently the only telco that is offering VoLTE-based calling service in India to its over 72 million customers in India. It is using Nokia’s IMS solution to offer the technology.

airtel-gopal-vittal

The 4G entrant’s voice service, which is primarily VoLTE, hasn’t been able to make any dent in the market due to the ongoing interconnection issue with incumbent telcos like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.

VoLTE will be very relevant in key markets or big cities in next 12-18 month, and even as sub-GHz band is best in deploying voice, 1,800 Mhz band is also very good, Vittal said in an investor call after the results.

We are future-proofing our network for VoLTE and looking at deploying equipment switch in key markets,” Airtel’s chief executive Gopal Vittal was quoted as saying my various media reports.

Airtel currently offers calling on the legacy circuit-switch technology. The leading carrier earlier awarded a nationwide VoLTE contract worth $60 million to Nokia to counter Reliance Jio’s VoLTE services in India.

Airtel has been piloting the technology in a few areas and after successful testing, it may launch in key markets, ET earlier reported.

Also read: Why Is VoLTE Crucial For Airtel ?

The country’s second and third largest telecom carriers, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, will also join the VoLTE race soon. Vodafone is reportedly trialing VoLTE in select areas using Nokia’s IMS solution. Idea Cellular, which is also expanding its 4G network in India, was earlier said to be in advanced talks with vendors like Ericsson and Nokia. The Aditya-Birla Group Company is likely to award the deal in coming days, reports say.

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