Optus launches VoLTE across Australian capital cities

Samsung post-paid users living in major cities will get to use Optus' 4G network to make voice calls.

Optus has announced the launch of its voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) capability over its 4G Plus mobile network, beginning in the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Using the capability will enable Optus customers to use voice services in addition to data over 4G, meaning higher-quality calls and speedier connections.

"VoLTE provides customers a number of benefits, including high-definition quality voice calls, faster call connections, and the ability for customers to multitask on their device while browsing and making a call over a 4G connection," said Dennis Wong, acting managing director of Networks at Optus.

"We've been testing and tweaking VoLTE for the best customer experience, and we're excited Optus customers will start to see the benefits of this technology on our 4G Plus network."

Wong added that the telecommunications provider will expand its VoLTE to other areas, "particularly in regional Australia". Optus' VoLTE will initially only be available on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, with more devices being added later, and only to post-paid consumer and SMB customers.

By comparison, Telstra launched its VoLTE capability in September last year to both Android and iOS users, while Vodafone Australia launched VoLTE before Christmas, starting only with Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge +, and Note 5 users.

Optus first launched its 4G Plus network in 2013, bringing it to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra. Its total 4G network reached 92 percent of the Australian population as of January.

Telstra has tipped its 4G network to reach 98 percent of the Australian population as of June 30 this year, and 99 percent by June 30, 2017, while Vodafone's 4G network now covers 95.3 percent of the population, or 23 million people.

According to market research company Kantar, Optus was recorded as having 22.7 percent of total mobile market share as of the end of March, having grown by 1.4 percentage points. Prepaid remained the same, at 21.5 percent, while post-paid grew by 2 percentage points, up to 24 percent, and no contract jumped by 3.8 percentage points to 20.6 percent.

Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) about Optus have been rising alongside its customer numbers, however; in the complaint statistics for January to March 2016, highest in the complaints ratio was again Optus, which saw 7.9 complaints per 10,000 services. This signalled an increase of 8.2 percent year on year.

Telstra had 41.1 percent of total market share, Kantar said, up from the 39.7 percent recorded last year despite its three network outages. In prepaid, it holds 41.7 percent of the market, up 4.1 percentage points year on year; in post-paid, it holds 43.6 percent, up 1.2 percentage points; and in no contract, it holds 30.1 percent, down 1 percentage point.

Telstra also had the second-highest ratio of complaints, with 6.4 per 10,000 services. This accounted for a 7.2 percent decrease year on year.

Vodafone Australia, meanwhile, dropped by 1.3 percentage points in total market share down to 15.2 percent. In the prepaid segment, it lost 1.4 percentage points in market share down to 14.2 percent; in post-paid, it lost 1.3 percentage points down to 16.5 percent; and in no contract, it remained the same, at 12.3 percent.

However, Vodafone marked a substantial drop of 57 percent year on year, down to just 3.7 complaints per 10,000 services.