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Vodafone offering VoLTE before Christmas, but only for Samsung users

Vodafone Australia will become the second Australian telco to offer voice over LTE for general use, but it will be restricted to four Samsung devices to begin with.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor on

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is set to hit Vodafone's Australian network, with the telco announcing that it will begin rolling out the service to post-paid customers on a select number of Samsung devices.

Users of the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge +, and Note 5 will be the first to have the settings needed to take advantage of VoLTE pushed to them, with other devices to follow at an unspecified time.

"It's a really exciting change for the network, as this is the first step to moving all voice traffic over to 4G," Vodafone Australia chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen said.

"In terms of the network, VoLTE means enhanced spectral efficiency with 2.3 times more users per MHz. It will also support the re-farming of our spectrum from 3G to 4G so that we can continue to provide great data speeds as traffic grows."

Hanssen said VoLTE would bring longer battery life and shorter call set-up times to users.

In August, the telco flagged the arrival of VoLTE as well as Wi-Fi calling.

"We're continuing to invest heavily in our network to bring further enhancements, with seamless voice over Wi-Fi one of the next features our customers can look forward to in the near future," Hanssen said on Wednesday.

Telstra announced last month that it would also be progressively rolling out VoLTE to its post-paid customers. Customers of the dominant Australian telco using Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ handsets, and the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, will be the first to be able to use VoLTE, followed by enterprise and business customers, and then by prepaid consumers.

Optus told ZDNet that it was well advanced in developing its VoLTE capability before its rollout next year, and had successfully conducted VoLTE test calls on commercial devices.

In a mobile network benchmark survey published on Wednesday, Telstra's network came out on top, followed by Optus, and then Vodafone.

For data use, peak downloads in metro areas averaged 46.4Mbps on the Telstra network, with Optus following on 38.3Mbps and Vodafone on 31.7Mbps. For peak data uploads, however, Vodafone was first, on 19.9Mbps, followed by Telstra's 18.7Mbps and Optus' 9.5Mbps.

Vodafone recently teamed up with TPG to announce two commercial agreements worth more than AU$1 billion that will see the number three mobile operator in Australia rely on the number three fixed-line operator in the country for dark fibre infrastructure. In turn, TPG will be taking its mobile customers onto Vodafone's network.

"If you look at us in the last two years, we haven't kept up with the pace as much as we'd have liked to," TPG chief operating officer Craig Levy said at the time.

"This gives us the opportunity ... to be more aggressive in the marketplace, and hopefully improve what has been a little bit of a declining mobile business."

The shift of mobile customers to Vodafone is only currently planned for TPG brand customers, and not those gained in the recent iiNet purchase.

In March, Vodafone Australia's German counterpart became the first telco to launch VoLTE in Germany.

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