After starting trials of LTE-A in Spain late last year, Vodafone is now preparing to start offering the higher-speed version of 4G to customers in the country.
The company said this week that it plans to launch LTE-A, also known as LTE-Advanced, commercially in three Spanish cities — Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia — from as early as next month. Other Spanish cities will get LTE-A too, Vodafone said, though it hasn't given any timeline for when to expect the deployment to be extended.
The technology will offer theoretical maximum download speeds of up to 300Mbps, the company said. That's double its top speed of 150Mbps today, which the operator gets from the current generation of LTE
LTE-A will require new hardware, and Vodafone said it will be stocking an LTE-A-compatible version of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Vodafone also revealed that it is has added Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capabilities to its network, and expects to begin rolling it out commerically in the coming months. With LTE conceived as a data-only network, voice calls have traditionally been carried over 3G networks or over VoIP. The addition of VoLTE means that voice calls can be carried over the 4G network instead, which should mean they have less of an impact on battery life, and calls can be connected quicker.
As with LTE-A, the operator has also been trialling VoLTE in the UK and the Netherlands, but there's no confirmed date for a commercial launch in either country.