Is it the Right Time for Airtel to Launch VoLTE?

By October 22nd, 2017 AT 5:22 PM

It is the year Voice over LTE (VoLTE) finally picked up in India and is further likely to gather momentum as the year comes to an end.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio launched VoLTE-powered 4G services last year. It was on the back of VoLTE capability that Jio was able to offer free voice calling for life to its subscribers. VoLTE allows voice calling at a fraction of the cost when compared with the cost of calling using the traditional network. The service provider now has more than 125 million subscribers. Recently, Airtel, India’s largest service provider launched VoLTE services in the circles of Mumbai, Goa and Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.


VoLTE will allow Airtel to provide high definition voice services at much lesser cost. More importantly, it will enable the company to fight competition from Over-the-top players, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, who offer free voice calling facility.

But is it the right time to launch VoLTE services for Airtel or is it already too late for the service provider?

Airtel is preparing to phase out its 3G services in the next two years and move all its subscribers to the 4G network. This will help the service provider to enhance the quality of experience and reduce its network management cost at the same time. The launch of VoLTE services is a step in this direction. As the company expands VoLTE across the country, it will be able to reduce its expenditure and offer better voice quality to its subscribers.

What has also led Airtel to push VoLTE plans is the IUC mess. Last month the Indian Government reduced the IUC from 14 paise per call to just six paise. The Government also decided to entirely scrap IUC from 2020. Airtel, along with Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, was the biggest loser from this decision. However, deployment of VoLTE helps them to reduce this expenditure. The coming few months are likely to see more VoLTE related announcements from Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea.

As the number of 4G devices increases in the country, more and more subscribers will be able to enjoy VoLTE services. In this context, cheap 4G devices will help the company. The launch of JioPhone has already brought the 4G and VoLTE devices down, making them accessible to more and more people. Airtel has tied up with Karbonn to launch a 4G smartphone at Rs 1,399.

Airtel uses Circuit Switched Fall Back (CSFB) technology to enable its 4G subscribers to make calls in areas where it is yet to launch VoLTE services. The company is planning to expand VoLTE services across the country soon.

What also works in Airtel’s favour is that thanks to work done by its archrival, Reliance Jio there is a fair bit of awareness about VoLTE now and the company will not need to educate its subscribers about the technology. At the time of Jio’s launch, subscribers hardly knew what VoLTE was, but that’s no longer the case. The increased awareness will help Airtel to easily move subscribers from other technologies to VoLTE.

With the launch of VoLTE, it is almost level playing field between Airtel and Jio as Airtel will be able to offer voice services at much-reduced rates.

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saket kewateEsmailSudhakarVedNitin Recent comment authors
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“Shares of Bharti Airtel rose 5% to hit their EIGHT-YEAR HIGH as the company is expected to raise tariff following the hike announced by rival Reliance Jio Infocomm on Oct 18. The stock hit Rs 500/sh for the first time since May 2009.”

Airtel has emerged stronger from the crisis !

Your move, Jio !


Reliance industries shares already touched an all time high of 943.45 today as a direct result of the tariff hike they announced and the targeted surge in revenue. Airtel’s stock gain of 5% was just an indirect effect of the same announcement, not a result of the company’s own ground breaking new move. Just that Jio’s move relieved some pricing pressure and gave them some breathing room to increase tariffs and improve EBIDTA.
Airtel is playing defensive at this point, so it’s actually jio making the advance and then saying, your move Airtel.

Kirti Khurana
Kirti Khurana

@esmail yes seems like both Jio & airtel will come out as winners in this battle & only losers will be Voda & Idea until their full merger. not to mention rcom aircel they’ll be dead or sold by next year. bsnl will be their to serve 2G customers.

Chetan Malhotra
Chetan Malhotra

Coai results for net customer addition is out yesterday and Vodafone idea has been biggest loosers . This trend has been going on since last 3 months. If this continue then by the time merger between two companies happen, they will be left with marginal subscribers.they will not be no. in terms of subscriber

Kirti Khurana
Kirti Khurana

quite right Chetan… Voda & idea are selfishly waiting for DOT to increase spectrum CAP in intra band capacity….
But voda & idea waiting for just 1-2 MHZ exceeding over CAP limit in few circles in 900MHz but not concerned about loosing huge chunk of customers ever month.
Neither they are bother to lay a roadmap for LTE & VOLTE despite of the merged entity will hold 1750+ MHz of liberalise spectrum doubled than Airtel + Jio combined.


Lol!!!!! They will take on Airtel quiet comfortably….. Waiting for the launch of devices with Lte band with 2500Mhz airwaves!!!!! Right now just Moto and Samsung J series devices have these bands!!!!!


Don’t take that on face value. I agree that a small portion of these lost subbscribers must be a result of porting out to other operators, but the vast majority of it is the numbers which were inactive for more than 90 days with less than 20 rs in core balance. One of the requirements for the merger to get required approvals is that the combined customer base of the merged company should not exceed 50% of subscriber market share in any circle, just like there is a regulation for spectrum holding cap. So the two operators are deliberately disconnecting… Read more »

saket kewate
saket kewate

Its not correct.

In October month, i have seen jio is allocating all inactive sim card.

I mean those customer who didnt recharge after 31st march got deactivated, and now been issued to new person.

To check authenticity, just visit any jio outlet and once number got generated from sim, search that in TRUECALLER. its will already having some name associated with it, also series is older one.


Can BSNL launch 3G using its existing 900 MHz and 4G using its 2100 MHz spectrum?.


They can’t launch 3G on existing 900 MHz spectrum unless they pay the spectrum liberalisation fee to DoT. Even after they buy fresh 900 MHz spectrum in 2020, they may not consider using it for 3G so soon since their majority subscriber base is on 2G feature phones from rural India and refarming 900 MHz for 3G would mean shifting 2G to 1800 MHz. This would need more investment since they would have to buy additional spectrum in 1800 MHz band and double the number of towers to achieve the same coverage. They haven’t launched 4G even on 2500 MHz… Read more »


This is also near tower. Why SINR is not displayedd in your app?

Kiran Fernandes | Goa
Kiran Fernandes | Goa

Hey Nitin, if you come to bombay, do lemme know. I need to check the places and figure out how good the spectrum is here. It’s mostly congested, so you won’t experience good speeds here. I’m barely able to cross 5Mbps on Jio.


which you were using?

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