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December 5, 2013
Hong Kong operator CSL, one of the world's first to fire up LTE, has now joined the exclusive VoLTE club. (See CSL Expands LTE Service in Hong Kong.)
Hong Kong CSL Ltd. is the first operator to activate its VoLTE capabilities in Asia-Pacific outside South Korea, although CEO Phil Mottram says commercial service isn't likely to start until close to mid-2014 when the first VoLTE-friendly handsets arrive. Pricing also won't be determined for another two months.
For consumers, the biggest advantage of VoLTE is that it offers call setup time of one or two seconds. It also allows them to access 4G data services while on the call, and lets them switch from voice to video during the call, if that's what they want to do.
That's because of a feature in the underlying IMS platform called eSRVCC (enhanced single radio voice call continuity), which also means that a voice connection can default seamlessly to 3G if 4G is not available, even during a call.
CSL CTO Christian Daigneault says this isn't available in South Korea. "VoLTE in Korea has a lot of problems," said Jason Tu, core networks vice president at ZTE Corp., CSL's main vendor partner. Tu claims eSRVCC-enabled services work more seamlessly for users, while in South Korea mobile VoLTE customers have to sign up for the service with the operator and change their service plan and possibly their phone, he said. With the ZTE CSL offering the service is automatically available.
The other advantage for CSL could be that the spectrum-efficient VoLTE capability will enable it to get the most out of its radio resources after it is forced to return a third of its 3G spectrum to the regulator in 2016. Despite protests from the five operators, Hong Hong regulator Ofca confirmed last month it would take back the spectrum and re-auction it. (See Spectrum Strife in Hong Kong.)
Daigneault says the company will pitch the VoLTE service to banks and other businesses as an alternative to their videoconferencing platforms.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading
Read more about:Asia
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