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VoLTE will be available on Celcom, here’s why you need it

Celcom is finally supporting Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and it is made available in conjunction with the arrival of the new Apple Watch Series 5 with LTE support. Apart from being a requirement to enable number sharing for the Apple Watch, VoLTE also offers significant improvements when it comes to voice calls.

Early 4G networks rely on 3G for voice calls

When 4G LTE was first introduced, most networks are only using it for data connectivity. If you need to make or receive a voice call, most telcos would still rely on their circuit-switched based 2G or 3G networks for voice services. Because of this, you will notice that your 4G icon will drop to 3G whenever there’s an incoming call. Obviously, this isn’t a great experience, especially when you’re using your phone as a 4G hotspot or while playing games.

To overcome this issue, telcos will need to enable Voice over LTE which will allow users to enjoy high-speed data and voice calls on 4G. Yes is Malaysia’s first telco to offer VoLTE and this was their only option to offer voice. Yes is running on a fully IP-based network that has no legacy 2G or 3G network.

VoLTE benefits

With Voice over LTE, you can expect significantly better voice quality since it offers higher bit rate and it is being transmitted via 4G. In addition, your calls are also connected up to 2X faster thanks to lower latency. Do note that VoLTE is available only when you’re within a 4G coverage area.

Three years ago, we did a VoLTE comparison on Yes 4G versus other telcos, and the difference is night and day. You can listen to the difference in audio quality below:

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Apart from Yes, other telcos such as Digi, U Mobile and Unifi Mobile have also enabled VoLTE on their network. Celcom and Maxis are the two remaining telcos that have yet to offer VoLTE to all customers.

Not everyone can get VoLTE on Celcom

VoLTE is currently supported on most new smartphones, however, Celcom will only offer it to NumberShare subscribers for now. NumberShare is a feature which allows your Apple Watch with cellular support to share the same mobile number and data quota as your primary postpaid line. With NumberShare, you can receive calls, notifications and stream Apple Music on your Apple Watch even when your iPhone is not with you.

To enable Celcom NumberShare, you’ll need to activate VoLTE and ensure that “4G with VoLTE” is turned on. You can check under your iPhone’s Settings > Mobile Data > Data Plans > Voice & Data section. Celcom is offering the service for free for the first 6 months and after that, it will cost you RM15/month. At the moment, NumberShare is only available on Celcom Mobile Gold Plus plan and above.

With 5G expected to roll out as early as the 2nd half of 2020, we expect all telcos to offer VoLTE extensively by next year. It would be silly if a 5G network still relies on 3G for voice calls.

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Alexander Wong