Hutchison 3G UK, which provides services under the ‘Three’ banner and is the UK’s smallest cellco by subscribers, has become the first of the nation’s mobile network operators to launch a commercial voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) service. Offered under the ‘4G Super-Voice’ banner, Three’s technology deployment is based on the rollout of low frequency 800MHz spectrum, which allows mobile signals to travel further into buildings while also extending rural reach. Those subscribers looking to take advantage of the new technology can do so free of charge, though a compatible handset, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, is required. Three has said it expects new VoLTE-capable devices to be added regularly, specifically noting that recent iPhone models will be made compatible via a software upgrade later this year.
At launch 4G Super-Voice is available to 50% of the UK’s population in terms of indoor coverage, as well as ‘more than three quarters of London, Edinburgh, Exeter and Birmingham’. Meanwhile, Three has begun rolling out the technology in ‘many other towns and cities across the country including Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol’, with the cellco having set out its stall to extend the network footprint to 65% of the population by the end of 2015. Looking further ahead, the operator expects to have 5.5 million Three customers able to access 4G Super-Voice, subject to device compatibility and take up, by 2017.