VoLTE may sound like some code Q would give 007 for turning on the bulletproof feature on his vest, but it’s just another tech acronym that stands for Voice over Long-Term Evolution. It’s likely you’ve heard or maybe even encountered some part of it on your smartphone, but you probably know it simply as LTE, a term that usually pops up when talking about internet connectivity.
To recall, the term VoLTE first showed up in Kenya when JTL rolled out Faiba 4G, although the product has failed, terribly, to say the least, to capture a significant market partly thanks to the limited number of devices that support the needed band 28 (700MHz).
Another reason is that Faiba 4G network coverage is still limited to major cities in the country, which leaves one wondering whether JTL rushed the product into the market without a clear-cut plan or it is simply a failed product.
The story is quite the opposite when it comes to Safaricom, which has recently talked up its plans to roll out VoLTE support in the future. With VoLTE, it means Safaricom wants you to make voice calls using your data and not airtime as is. This should be a boon for Fiber Home users because Safaricom VoLTE should also work on Wi-Fi connections with the help of Wi-Fi Calling, a feature we also hope Safaricom will include in this update.
Widest 4G/4G+ coverage
So far, Safaricom 4G (also known as LTE) is available in all 47 counties whereas 4G+ (also known as LTE-Advanced) has reached all three major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu as well as some parts of Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kitui, Machakos, Naivasha, and so on. This is the widest 4G/4G+ coverage in Kenya, something that should make VoLTE accessible to many Safaricom subscribers with the right hardware once it rolls out.
Speaking of hardware, Mother Green is already working with smartphone vendors such as Huawei and Transsion Holdings to test this product in the country, which means Android fans will have a good number of devices to pick from considering how popular these two vendors are these sides.
Just so you know, a software update is needed to enable the feature on eligible smartphones. This means that Safaricom subscribers using VoLTE-capable devices from other vendors like Samsung, Oppo, HMD Global, and even Xiaomi will easily be able to join the party once both parties agree to roll out updates to turn on the VoLTE feature.
Why should you care about Safaricom VoLTE?
As noted, Safaricom 4G coverage is available countrywide, which means most people should be able to enjoy the feature as long as they have the right hardware.
With VoLTE, you are guaranteed better voice quality during calls, especially if the person on the other end is also using this feature. Also, this tech reduces the time it takes for a call to connect to the intended recipient, although this may only be true for nearby devices.
We don’t know if Safaricom will also throw support for video calling in there (ViLTE), but we do hope so. This should make it possible to place video calls directly from the default Phone app without the need for apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and the likes.
Since VoLTE uses data, Kenyans should be able to save significantly on the money spent on airtime because the same data package meant for browsing the web can still be used to make voice calls.
What remains to be seen is how Safaricom will factor in people on tight data budgets and ensure that they also get to enjoy VoLTE without getting themselves into any kind of financial trouble.