Singapore telcos to launch VoLTE by mid-2014

SingTel, StarHub and M1 are rolling out Voice over LTE services, which leverage the 4G networks, for faster call connections and higher quality audio.

Singapore mobile phone customers can soon look forward to clearer voice calls and faster connection times.

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By the middle of the year, telcos SingTel, StarHub and M1 are expected to offer Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services. These will run on their faster 4G networks which were gradually rolled out nationwide over the past two years.

The VoLTE service carries a broader range of audio frequencies, allowing for richer sound with significantly reduced background noise.  In addition, calls will be connected in less than two seconds compared with five to ten seconds on 3G networks. Customers will have the flexibility to make calls and use 4G mobile data services at the same time without compromising 4G data connectivity speeds.

StarHub will launch VoLTE commercially by mid-2014 after a successful trial last December. It is expected to be the same quality as its high definition voice service launched last March, which was available for calls among its own customers.

"StarHub is also upgrading its 4G network to LTE-Advanced in order to offer maximum download speeds of 300Mbps. This network upgrade is expected to complete by the end of the year," said Lim Eng Huat, StarHub's Head of Mobile Network Engineering, in a statement.

SingTel will offer the service "in the coming months", while M1 expects to do the same by the middle of the year.

"VoLTE opens the doors to a whole new world of next-generation communications and interactive video services," said Paul O'Sullivan, SingTel's CEO for Group Consumer, in the stataement. It is partnering Ericsson for the VoLTE rollout and will work with Samsung to bring in a range of VoLTE-compatible smartphones.