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Vodafone launches NZ’s first Voice over LTE (4G) sites

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Vodafone switched on New Zealand’s first Voice over LTE (4G) sites over the weekend across Auckland’s North Shore as the first step in a planned nationwide rollout. The timing of the rollout aligns with Vodafone’s commitment to expand 4G coverage to rural New Zealand through the RBI2 initiative.

Vodafone was first to launch HD voice calling on 3G, and is now the first to take call quality to a new level of clarity- with the introduction of VoLTE, when performing a VoLTE call between enabled handsets in supported areas.

Additionally, Video Calling (over LTE or ViLTE) will also be a supported service between Samsung VoLTE enabled handsets, with other Android handsets to follow.

VoLTE-enabled devices will stay on 4G rather than drop to 3G/2G to make calls. From Saturday 8 June, all iPhone users with an iPhone6 or above began receiving Carrier Settings Upgrade notifications, which will enable VoLTE once they accept it and switch it on in Settings. Samsung s9 and s9+ users will have VoLTE enabled by default towards the end of June, with other devices to follow.

All Vodafone customers on eligible plans-- will be offered VoLTE services at no additional cost, with calls charged at the same rate as 3G calls today. Provisioning of the service is underway and scheduled for completion by the end of June.

Vodafone Technology Director, Tony Baird, explains a key difference people will notice from a user experience is the speed of the call connection.

"The call set-up time is almost instant. No more waiting several seconds to connect. You might get a fright the first few times you use it, with people already saying "Hello" by the time you get your phone to your ear. It really is the next evolution in voice calling."

In addition to this universal benefit for anyone using VoLTE, Baird explains rural New Zealand is set to reap great rewards.

"The key benefit for rural customers is the expansion of 4G network coverage itself, which means more rural New Zealanders will be connected.

"In addition, currently, cell towers look for 3G when someone makes a call. This means anyone using data in the household, say they’re streaming or gaming for example, will also drop down to 3G and very likely notice a drop in speed or performance. With a VoLTE-enabled device, calls will be made over 4G rather than dropping down, which means people using data in the household will also stay on 4G and have a better user experience."

Customers on Android will know they are in a VoLTE area via a symbol that will be displayed near their signal strength indicator on their device home screen, while iPhone users will see the 4G symbol.

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