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EE pledges to invest £275m in voice

More European VoLTE announcements are in the offing

UK mobile operator EE has pledged to invest £275m into the quality and reliability of its voice services in 2014. The operator announced that it is upgrading 11,000 2G sites and doubling the capacity on 7,000 3G sites.

EE said that it had already invested in voice service enhancement this year, resulting in its highest ever call success rate; 99.2 per cent. This was despite the number of calls on the network increasing by 25 per cent since the beginning of 2012, the firm said.

In 2013, it upgraded 20 year old 2G equipment on over 6,000 sites to reduce dropped calls by 50 per cent; increased the capacity on 1,600 3G sites to support 50 per cent more calls and installed a new HLR (Home Location Register) database to increase call set up success. In 2014 will see it plans to upgrade over 5,000 2G sites, increase capacity on 5,500 more 3G sites and carry out VoLTE and voice over wifi trials.

EE’s director of RAN development & programmes Mansoor Hanif told Telecoms.com in September this year that moving from CSFB to IMS and VoLTE would benefit the firm both in terms of user experience and cost-efficiency.

“However, CSFB when properly optimised has proven to work very well: in independent benchmarks, including those published by RootMetrics for the UK, our CSFB voice has been shown to perform as well as or better than 3G voice, and time lag for call setup is minimal. VoLTE, once fully mature, can offer higher quality audio and extremely fast call setup,” he said.

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He added that EE closely watches the development of 4G around the world and cited South Korea as a “tremendously exciting testing ground for VoLTE, and other advanced technologies”. South Korea Telecom, one of the first operators worldwide to launch voice over LTE (VoLTE) services, said earlier this year that it had notched up more than 4.5 million active users of the technology at the end of May.

EE is not the only operator to have invested in voice technology this week. Deutsche Telekom announced that it has increased the security for voice transmissions in its German network in a bid to better protect its subscribers from eavesdropping. The operator has deployed the A5/3 encryption standard for voice transmission, which is currently being rolled out nationwide.  The technology has already been implemented in Deutsche Telekom’s networks in Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland and the Czech Republic.

And Chinese operator China Mobile has been making strides in improving its voice services. Last month, the operator announced it had teamed up with infrastructure vendor Huawei to demonstrate the world’s first international VoLTE HD voice and video calls between a TDD LTE network and a FDD LTE network.

The demonstration was conducted over China Mobile’s VoLTE trial networks in Chengdu and Hangzhou, and a VoLTE network in South Korea.

“While we consistently outperform on the standard UK benchmark for voice call quality and reliability, I don’t believe the benchmark is right,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee. “I think the UK mobile industry can do better, and we intend to improve the experience for our customers, taking our quality and reliability to levels to those achieved by other operators across Europe.”


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