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Three UK announces VoLTE launch and 800 MHz roll-out

Three store

Hot on the heels of network enhancement announcements from rivals EE and Vodafone, Three UK had beaten them both to the punch with the commercial launch of VoLTE as well as the roll-out of its 800 MHz spectrum.

Three is marketing VoLTE + 800 MHz as 4G Super-Voice to try to make the concept a bit easier for consumers to digest. It is explaining the coverage (rural and indoor) benefits of lower frequency spectrum, but is dodging the usual VoLTE USPs such as HD voice, wifi calling handover, uninterrupted 4G, etc. Three does say it will be the first to offer VoLTE, but for now it’s not saying why people should care.

“Not being able to use your phone as and when you want, no matter where you are, is one of the biggest pain points for customers,” said Danny Dixon, Director of Customer Strategy at Three. “Today’s announcement is the latest step in our efforts to offer customers a quality experience on what is already the UK’s most reliable network.”

Bryn Jones, CTO at Three, added: “By the end of the year, one million of our customers will have access to better indoor coverage and be able to use their phones in more places than ever before. We are proud to be the first network to roll this out across the country.”

To be clear Three is saying over a million of its customers are expected to have a VoLTE-enabled handset by the end of 2015, requiring only an OTA software update, and it does make reference to the 2×5 MHz of 800 MHz spectrum it acquired in the 2013 auction. Three also claims ‘4G Super-Voice already covers 50% of the UK population for indoor coverage and more than three quarters of London, Edinburgh, Exeter and Birmingham.’

This is a significant strategic coup for Three as its rivals have all been keen to position themselves strongly for the VoLTE era. EE spoke to Telecoms.com about both its VoLTE and its 800 MHz plans last week, perhaps in anticipation of this announcement. Meanwhile Vodafone launched its wifi calling at the end of last week and will feel renewed pressure to get a move on with VoLTE.

Explore the latest developments in VoLTE at the LTE Voice Summit on September 28-30 in London

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