Telstra begins rolling out the next-generation of 4G services

Switches on VoLTE, demos VoWiFi

Telstra announced today that it had progressively begin enabling voice over LTE (VoLTE) across its network for post-paid customers.

Prior to the VoLTE switch-on, smartphones would drop back to 3G cellular connections during calls, potentially reducing the speed of data transfers taking place in the background.

The VoLTE rollout not only means a handset remains connected to Telstra's 4G network during voice calls, but allows high-definition audio and quicker call setup.

"What's special about this integration is it's not just the wireless network," Mike Wright, Telstra's general managing director, networks, said today during a press briefing.

"We've actually integrated voice over LTE also into the fixed network. So we've integrated [it] into next-generation calling on the NBN devices; if there's a next-generation NBN device with HD voice codecs, you'll get HD voice."

Telstra today conducted a live demonstration of voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi). A test handset was able to initiate a call using VoLTE then seamlessly drop back to Wi-Fi when it was available and then return to VoLTE.

Telstra is yet to reveal the timeline for a VoWiFI rollout, nor the telco's eventual rollout of video calling over LTE (ViLTE).

The VoLTE rollout forms an important part of Telstra's roadmap for its mobile network. The immediate benefits of VoLTE such as quicker call connections are only part of the story, Wright said.

Boosting the penetration of devices that support VoLTE and switching it on across the Telstra network are part of a broader move to enable next-generation services.

Read more: NBN CEO wants to boost RSP choice for end users

"This is just the beginning of the next page of the story about where VoLTE takes us. Because this is the enabler for the next-generation multimedia calling," Wright said.

"It's the enabler that will take us down the path of things like rich communications suites, to video calling and indeed to voice over Wi-Fi."

"There will be a point in time where we will want to roll out a 4G network only, and VoLTE is important as enabler of that in the future," Wright said

The telco today also demonstrated a Category 11 mobile broadband modem.

The Netgear manufactured modem, which Telstra will sell, has a theoretical maximum speed of 600Mbps (via carrier aggregation) and exceeded 590Mbps in a demonstration held in the telco's Sydney HQ.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn has outlined ambitious plans to boost investment in the telco's network.

"We will start rapidly deploying the next generation of LTE technology including voice over LTE, LTE broadcast and the next stage of LTE advanced delivering peak network speeds of up to 600Mbps," Penn said in a July speech.

"By fully leveraging our superior spectrum holdings we will create new levels of coverage and performance leadership for 4GX."We are committed to maintaining our network leadership in Australia-offering superior experiences for what matters most to customers."

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