Jio Impact: Airtel Launches 4G VoLTE in Mumbai, BSNL to Soon Join the Bandwagon
New Delhi, September 12: India’s largest telecom player Bharti Airtel on Monday announced the launch of VoLTE (voice over LTE) services starting with Mumbai. Airtel said that the trial of the event will start in Mumbai and shall be enhanced for the rest of the country in the coming months. So far, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio was the only one in the country to enable users to make voice calls using data with VoLTE technology. As per details by Bharti Airtel, there will be no additional data charges for VoLTE and calls will be billed as per existing plans or pack benefits.
Airtel has about 260 million subscribers on its network and aims to garner more with the launch of VoLTE services for its customers. The telecom major also announced it will roll out its VoLTE service across the country by March 2018. To bring quality calling to its customers, Airtel it will allow customers to continue with their data sessions at 4G speed while the call is in progress. Even when 4G is not available, Airtel VoLTE calls will automatically fall back on the 3G/2G network to ensure that customers continue to stay connected at all the time.
Earlier, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO of Bharti Airtel had said that the company will roll out VoLTE service across India by the end of the current financial year. The roll out of VoLTE services would enable superior call quality compared to 3G or 2G connections as far more data can be transferred over 4G than 2G or 3G. Both the players, Jio and Airtel have said that their VoLTE customers will not be charged extra for data used in these calls.
Abhay Savargaonkar, director-networks at Bharti Airtel was quoted by Economic Times saying, “With the VoLTE compatible device ecosystem beginning to mature, we believe it’s the right time to enable VoLTE calling as part of our service portfolio”. It has to be noted that the existing 4G customers need not change SIM to avail the newly launched service. To make a 4G VoLTE call on the Airtel network in Mumbai, a user will need a 4G SIM.The customers will get a web link in the SMS which will lead to a software update for their connection that will enable them to use VoLTE service. Out of all the established telecom companies like Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, Aircel, the Sunil Mittal-led market leader is the first to adopt the VoLTE technology.
While Airtel went live with its 4G VoLTE services in Mumbai, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is ready with their own country-wide roll out of 4G VoLTE services. To add more to it, BSNL has even started their groundwork on 5G services to get ready for the future. As per reports by PTI, BSNL has already started to work on their pan-India 4G VoLTE network. BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said that the company will roll out the service as soon as they get the spectrum permission from the government. Late last year, the telco had written to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to allocate airwaves in the 700 MHz band for rolling out 4G services. The company expects to get the government s approval soon for using airwaves in 700 MHz band for offering 4G and 5G services in the future.
Reliance Jio, which has garnered around 130 million users, was the first telecom operator offering VoLTE calling. The telecom industry has been under tremendous pricing pressure ever since Jio launched its services in the Indian market in September 2016. Taking into consideration that VoLTE has a lower cost per minute than traditional voice, the importance of VoLTE could increase in the coming years and might please customers.