October 29, 2012

4G Voice Calls To Rely on 3G Networks ?

 

4G phone batteries likely to be drained by voice calling.

4G phone batteries likely to be drained by voice calling.

4G LTE ( the real name for 4G in the UK ) has its own 4G voice calling embedded within the technology and this is called VoLTE ( Voice over LTE ). On a 4G network, voice calls ideally need to be handled via voice-over-IP (VoIP) and in this case VoLTE.

 

This would give the best sound quality possible at the current time for 4G networks both in the UK and in other countries including the US. 4G has been launched in the US for some time yet the major operators have still not added VoLTE into their 4G networks and may not until 2014.

 

The reason for this is simply technical issues which have become difficult to master in the timescales needed. 4G.co.uk mention this as we have heard nothing of VoLTE from EE ( Everything Everywhere – which owns Orange and T-Mobile ) ahead of its 4G launch tomorrow ( 3oth October ).

 

The issue is that if EE do not have VoLTE up and running on its 4G network ( which we doubt ) this results in two issues. The first is that although the voice call sound quality on the EE 4G network will be adequate without VoLTE it won’t be as good as the 4G standard developers intended. However, the lack of VoLTE on a 4G network is likely to result in serious 4G phone battery drainage.

 

As VoLTE is not being used for voice calls the 4G phone must switch to the Orange or T-Mobile 3G network and use 3G voice-over-IP (VoIP). This means that for every voice call made by a 4G customer, the 4G phone has to hunt for a 3G signal, switch to 3G for the voice call, and then hunt for the 4G signal and switch back to 4G once the voice call is terminated. In the telecoms world, this is called Circuit Switched Fall Back (CSFB).

 

CSFB takes its toll on the battery life as switching between 3G and 4G is very demanding on the battery. 4G.co.uk would see this continuing for some time and possibly beyond 2013. The only way to see if this is an issue, is for EE customers to start using thier 4G phones for voice calls and wait to see how bad the battery drainage actually is.

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