India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel is conducting trials of VoLTE or voice over LTE technology in five cities, and hopes to take it pan-India in the “later part of the year”. Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a technology for faciliating voice on 4G network, and lowers the cost of offering voice calls. At present, Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Jio is the only operator in India offering voice on 4G network using VoLTE technology, while the incumbent telcos have been offering voice calls to their 4G customers with support of their other established networks- 2G and 3G.
The roll out of VoLTE by larger players like Airtel is expected to open up a new frontier in the price war with rival Reliance Jio, and experts say it may set the stage for cheaper voice offerings. “Our Voice over LTE is in the works. We are currently doing trials in five cities … we have done some testing. At some stage towards the later part of the year, we should be able to take VoLTE everywhere,” Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said at a conference.
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Essentially, VoLTE translates into reduced costs for telecom operators. Jio’s VoLTE infrastructure has allowed the newcomer to offer free voice and disruptive pricing in the Indian market and notch over 100 million customers within months of its commercial launch. Last month, Ericsson had said India’s VoLTE subscriptions will touch 370 million by 2022, and the global base is set to reach 4.6 billion in the same period.