Philippine telco Smart extends VoLTE service to postpaid subs

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Customers of PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) can now experience high quality calls with uninterrupted data use with the launch of its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service nationwide.

VoLTE, the first, fully IP-based, carrier grade voice service, will initially be made available to Smart Signature and Smart Infinity subscribers and will be rolled out to more customers in the coming months.

VoLTE enables users to make phone calls via LTE using LTE SIMs and VoLTE-capable handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy A31 and the Huawei P40 series, for example. This means that they can simultaneously be in a phone call while actively using mobile data for other applications—unlike in the current setup, where devices shift from the 4G network to 2G or 3G mobile networks during a voice call.

Aside from improved call quality, VoLTE also enables faster call setup, which means the amount of time it takes for a mobile phone to connect to another for a voice call is also drastically reduced.

Using VoLTE-capable handsets, customers can also make VoLTE calls using their phone’s native dialer, and will not require a separate, over-the-top (OTT) application. Compared to OTT apps, VoLTE delivers better voice quality, and also guarantees that the receiver of the call is reached, unlike OTTs that require both caller and receiver to be online and on the same app.

“This service is part of our commitment to bring high quality experiences to our customers by making technologies such as VoLTE available to them,” said Jane J. Basas, Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart.

Wi-Fi calling

This comes at the heels of Smart’s commercial rollout of its Voice-over-Wifi (VoWiFi) or Wi-Fi calling service, which lets customers make and receive calls and text messages over any Wi-Fi connection using their smartphone’s native dialer, without having to install another app.

Apart from improved calling and messaging experience, Wi-Fi Calling also offers extended network coverage, as customers can make and receive voice calls, as well as video calls, wherever there is any Wi-Fi connection and is particularly useful for use inside buildings, and on higher floors, for example.

High-definition call quality will be experienced when both caller and receiving party are on VoLTE or VoWiFi.

“With these capabilities, we are enabling more of our customers to enjoy enriching voice call experiences,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering. “Through services such as VoLTE, we are also able to maximize our available network resources, particularly for LTE.”

 

VoLTE, VoWiFi-capable devices

Smart has also been partnering with device manufacturers in making more VoLTE-capable and VoWiFi-capable handsets available, such as the Samsung Galaxy A series, as well as in Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and newer, Galaxy S8 and newer, and Galaxy Fold.

The Samsung S20 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Huawei Mate 10, Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, P30 series and Y5 2019 are also VoLTE- and VoWiFi-capable.

“This endeavor is just one way to enable our customers to get better, faster, and smarter as they adapt into the new norm. By providing the latest available technologies and enhancing our network efficiency, we facilitate better service for our customers,” said Jovy Hernandez, ePLDT President & CEO and SVP & Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups.

Calls made with VoLTE and VoWiFi will be charged like normal calls against the customer’s active subscription. For customers without an active subscription, local and international voice and text rates will apply.

For more information on VoLTE and VoWiFi, visit  https://smart.com.ph/Pages/VoLTE-VoWiFi

Network upgrades

As of end-March, Smart increased the number of 4G/LTE base stations to 26,000, up 6% from end-2019 and 60% more than end-2018. PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which supports Smart’s network by providing high-capacity links to LTE base stations, is now at 338,500 kilometers nationwide, 5% more than end-2019 and up nearly 40% from end-2018.

In April, Smart further increased the capacity of its LTE network by reallocating its assigned 1800 Mhz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. As a result, 3,785 base stations of Smart have also been providing additional capacity for its LTE network.

PLDT and Smart have also ramped up the roll-out of fiber-powered, carrier-grade Smart WiFi in heavy foot-traffic areas across the country such as government offices, city and provincial halls, tertiary schools, malls and transportation hubs like airports, bus ports and seaports, among other areas.

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