Technically speaking, we can say that India has commercially deployed 4G LTE network, but is this network that we experience today actually true 4G? Is it just the higher speeds of data that we take as the one parameter to proclaim that we have upgraded to 4G? There is much more to 4G that we have yet to get a taste of. The current 4G deployment in India is in the form of a pure data platform with voice functionality needing a circuit switched fall back to legacy 3G and 2G networks, which means you can’t continue your high speed data streaming or downloading activity when you get a voice call.
With true 4G, voice is carried over the same LTE network which is called VoLTE which enables you to enjoy voice calling along with simultaneous high speed data streaming, downloading and even using features like mobile hotspot. With VoLTE you get HD quality voice which is superior to GSM analogue voice which we use today, much like the difference between HD channels and SD channels on TV. HD voice uses wide-band audio technology and noise cancellation which extends the frequency range of audio signals transmitted over telephone lines, resulting in higher quality speech.
With True 4G you also have an advantage like VoWi-Fi that allows for voice services over any Wi-Fi network (home, office, hotspots). With this, you can have seamless call transfer support between Wi-Fi and LTE (using VoLTE) thereby providing better coverage – indoors and specific areas. This can save costs as roaming charges are minimized – A VoWiFi call from anywhere in the world will be charged as a mobile call in the home mobile network. with true 4G you can enjoy 7-way audio conferencing and 4-way video conferencing.
An independent research done by Signals Research Group (SRG) in the US in June-July 2014 compares VoLTE with VoIP on the OTT application (Skype). The report evaluates several attributes including call setup time, call reliability, call quality, network resource requirements, and the impact on battery life. It was found that the voice quality of VoLTE was much better than the HD voice offered by Skype.The call set up time for VoLTE was lesser than VoIP and also the battery drain by VoLTE was lesser compared to VoIP.
Hopefully in the future the newer LTE networks which will be deployed will be true 4G LTE networks which will let us explore the full potential of the 4G platform and help India evolve and maintain pace with the developed nations as far as technology is concerned.
Esmail is our very own in-house spectrum specialist. He is passionate about Telecom, DTH and OTT video streaming apps. When not writing an article, you can find him binge watching shows on Netflix while sipping on a cup of coffee.