Vodafone has announced it will rollout Wi-Fi calling and voice over 4G (VoLTE) in the UK this summer, following similar recent announcements from rivals EE, Three and O2.
Wi-Fi calling uses wireless connections to provide a voice signal, allowing customers to make and receive calls and texts when signal is patchy or even non-existent. The difference in Vodafone’s service, however, compared with that of Three, is that customers won’t be required to download an app.
It’s good news for those customers living in areas of the UK with poor mobile signal but good broadband connectivity. Large buildings and office blocks in which mobile signal struggles to penetrate also stand to benefit. Provided a user is connected to a Wi-Fi network, if network coverage becomes too weak, the mobile device will automatically switch to Wi-Fi calling.
In addition, Vodafone will be providing VoLTE, which offers many more advantages than 2G and 3G calling. The 4G network makes it simpler and easier to transfer larger amounts of data, resulting in an improved connection speed and call quality. Handset battery life is also improved, as devices no longer need to switch to a 2G or 3G network when making voice calls.
While Three and O2 have hinted that they will provide VoLTE at some point in 2015, EE is currently the only provider offering it, although the service has its limitations. For example, calls cannot switch from one service to another mid-call. If Vodafone can be the first to achieve this, many believe it would be a ‘huge feather in its cap’. Vodafone will be looking to build on its reputation for top-notch coverage and will need every weapon in its arsenal to keep competing.
All in all, Vodafone’s developments will be funded by a £1 billion investment into its UK network quality. The first stage of its plan is to launch a residential broadband service (due in spring 2015), which was first announced in November 2014.