Lebanese cellco Alfa has announced its commercial readiness to launch VoLTE services in collaboration with Ericsson, claiming a national first. CEO of Alfa, Marwan Hayek, called the all-IP 4G voice announcement ‘a historic moment’, following on from the company’s introduction of 4G LTE mobile data services in 2013, and highlighted that the LTE network ‘is fully-ready both commercially and technically to launch [VoLTE], and Alfa will soon start rolling out the service to its users gradually’. Hayek explained the phased approach by noting that ‘handsets supporting this service are not yet widely available locally and globally’. VoLTE will give Alfa users a call set-up time of one-to-two seconds compared to ‘seven-to-ten’ seconds on 2G or 3G calls, plus higher definition sound quality.
Alfa – backed by Egypt’s Orascom TMT – also announced this month that its LTE roaming service – launched in October 2017 – has driven a 500% growth in internet consumption by visitors to Lebanon (compared to the previous 3G-only roaming data facilities), whilst internet consumption by Alfa subscribers visiting other countries has doubled. Rival cellco Touch Lebanon does not yet offer LTE roaming.