VoLTE Calling: Everything You Need to Know

VoLTE, which stands for Voice over LTE, is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using the 4G network, offering superior call quality, known as HD calls. Unlike traditional calls that use 2G or 3G networks, VoLTE operates entirely in the digital spectrum, providing a series of advantages, such as better sound quality, energy efficiency and the possibility of using mobile data simultaneously during calls.

First commercially launched in 2012 and arriving in Brazil in 2017, VoLTE began to expand significantly after the release of the 700 MHz band by Anatel, which improved call coverage and stability. However, VoLTE availability depends on carrier support and device compatibility.

What is VoLTE? Why does it appear on the cell phone?

Talking on the phone with clarity of sound so close to reality that it seems like the person is right next to you. This was the premise behind the creation of VoLTE – Voice over LTE. Translation: Voice over LTE, a technology that allows you to make voice calls using the 4G network, which we all know and love for its fast internet. 

But why is this a big deal? Well, before VoLTE, our calls were made using older networks, like 2G and 3G, which weren’t built with the voice quality and hardware we have in mind today.

When you see “VoLTE” appearing on your cell phone, it’s as if your phone is saying, “Hey, I’m using the latest technology to make your calls sound crystal clear!” It’s a sign that you’re using something more modern, where every word is clear, without those annoying noises or cuts.

How do VoLTE calls work?

Let’s do an exercise: think that instead of taking congested and potholed roads (the 2G and 3G networks), your calls now have an expressway just for them on the 4G highway. Such a possibility exists because VoLTE sends your voice in data packets over the internet, not unlike how you send voice messages on WhatsApp.

But here’s the magic: even using the internet, calls with technology are optimized to have priority, so they won’t hang or drop like a bad video call. And as the 4G network is super fast and stable, your voice arrives cleanly on the other side, without delays or that robotic effect.

To transform your voice into data and vice versa, the cell phone communicates with something called IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem). Think of IMS as a specialized translator that understands the language of the internet and the language of phone calls, allowing them to work together in harmony.

Therefore, your VoLTE call is treated like a celebrity on operator networks. In other words, even in times of heavy internet traffic, your call has priority, ensuring that the quality of your voice is not compromised by an episode of a series being downloaded in the apartment next door.

Some operators use lower frequency bands, such as 700 MHz, for VoLTE. These bands are like superpowers for your phone’s signal, allowing it to travel further and penetrate buildings better, ensuring you can speak clearly even indoors or further away.

What are the benefits of VoLTE calls?

  1. High Definition Sound Quality: HD sound quality, which makes every laugh, whisper and word heard without hiss.
  2. Fast connection: Calls connect almost instantly, so you can say goodbye to those awkward silences while waiting for the call to go through.
  3. Simultaneous data usage: The feature allows you to use high-speed mobile data even while on a call.
  4. Battery efficiency: Despite using advanced technology, VoLTE is surprisingly kind to your phone’s battery. This is because it eliminates the need for your phone to constantly switch between 2G/3G and 4G networks, saving energy.
  5. Better coverage and range: Calls can be made and received in places where 4G signal is strong but 2G/3G is not, significantly improving coverage, especially indoors.

What are the limitations of VoLTE calls?

Despite all the advantages, VoLTE has its limitations, which are also important to know:

  • Device Compatibility: Not all smartphones support VoLTE. Your device needs to be relatively modern and have this functionality enabled to join the VoLTE party.
  • Carrier support: Not all carriers support VoLTE, and even among those that do, there may be geographic or plan limitations.
  • Need to configure: in some cases, especially on imported devices, it may be necessary to manually configure your device to use VoLTE.
  • Plan restrictions : Some carriers may restrict VoLTE use to certain plans, leaving users of more basic plans out.
  • 4G coverage: To take advantage of VoLTE, you need to be in an area with 4G coverage. Without it, your phone may have to resort to older networks to make calls.

Do all operators support VoLTE?

In Brazil, the history of VoLTE is like a series of ups and downs, led by telephone operators. Not everyone jumped on this bandwagon immediately, and to this day, the availability of VoLTE varies greatly between them. Let’s see who is offering what:

  • Vivo and TIM: offer technology support to all their customers, without distinction. If you are a Vivo or TIM customer, it is very likely that you are already enjoying clearer and faster calls, as long as you have a compatible device.
  • Of course: it’s a little more selective with its VoLTE circle. The technology is available, yes, but only for postpaid plan customers. If you are a Claro prepaid or control customer, for now, you will be left out of this technological party.
  • Virtual Operators (MVNOs): the terrain is more rugged here. Many virtual operators, those that do not have their own network and rent infrastructure from large companies, do not yet support VoLTE. This means that its users have to make do with 2G and 3G networks to make and receive calls.
  • What about the rest?: The scenario is varied, and VoLTE availability can change quickly. Some smaller and regional carriers may offer the service in specific areas, so it’s worth checking with your carrier directly if you’re curious about support for the technology.

What is the difference between VoLTE and 4G and Wi-Fi Calling?

Wi-Fi Calling is a technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls and send text messages over a Wi-Fi connection, instead of using the traditional cellular network. It is used in areas with weak or non-existent cellular signal.

When you make a call or send a message with Wi-Fi Calling turned on, your device uses your Wi-Fi connection to connect to your carrier’s servers, which then process the call or message as if it were coming from the cellular network.

Therefore, both improve the quality of your calls, but in different ways. VoLTE uses the cellular network (4G), while Wi-Fi Calling relies on a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi Calling is a great alternative when your cellular signal is weak but you have access to a Wi-Fi network stable.

Does VoLTE support video calls?

Here comes a close cousin of VoLTE, known as ViLTE (Video over LTE). ViLTE is an extension of Voice over LTE that allows you to make video calls with the same efficiency and high quality, taking advantage of the 4G network to transmit video and audio.

However, ViLTE adoption depends on carrier support and device compatibility. While not as universally supported as VoLTE, ViLTE offers clear, lag-free video calls when available.

With the arrival of 5G, for example, we also had the arrival of a technology called VoNR (Voice over New Radio), which is the 5G version of VoLTE, optimized for 5G networks. VoNR allows voice calls — and, by extension, video calls — to fully benefit from the bandwidth and low latency of 5G, taking communication quality to new heights.

So, in addition to ultra-fast downloads and uploads , 5G users can expect extremely clearer and more reliable voice and video calls in the coming years.

Does VoLTE consume franchise data?

One of the biggest questions about the use of VoLTE concerns data consumption. After all, if VoLTE operates over the 4G network, does it consume the mobile data allowance like any other online activity? 

An exception in the data network

Although VoLTE uses the 4G (or higher) data network to transmit voice calls as if they were digital data, it is treated in a special way by operators. Therefore, although it technically uses the data network to work, VoLTE calls do not consume the user’s mobile data allowance.

Carriers have systems that identify VoLTE data traffic and separate it from conventional data traffic, such as web browsing, video streaming , or app use. So even if you’re making a long VoLTE call, it won’t affect your monthly data allowance.

Billing for calls made via VoLTE follows your carrier’s voice rate plan, not your data plan. Therefore, they are charged in the same way as traditional calls, either by minutes or as part of an unlimited calling package, depending on your plan.

Why is this good?

  • No bill surprises: You can enjoy high-quality calls without worrying about excessive data consumption.
  • Greater freedom: makes you use VoLTE whenever available, without hesitating for fear of using up your data allowance.
  • Superior call quality: Encourages the use of technology that provides a much better calling experience at no additional cost.

Can I disable VoLTE at any time?

Although VoLTE brings a number of benefits, such as superior call quality and battery efficiency, there may be times when you prefer not to use it. The good news is that yes, you have the flexibility to disable VoLTE on your device . 

How to disable VoLTE

On Android smartphones, you can generally disable VoLTE by going to Settings > Mobile Networks. There, you’ll find an option that might be something like “VoLTE Calls” or “Use VoLTE,” which you can simply turn off.

Considerations when disabling VoLTE

  • Call quality: Keep in mind that when you disable VoLTE, your calls will revert to using 2G or 3G networks, which may result in lower sound quality.
  • Data usage during calls: Without VoLTE, you won’t be able to use mobile data while on a call. This means that activities like browsing the web or using maps during a call will not be possible.
  • Battery drain: While the impact may be small, keeping VoLTE turned on generally results in better battery efficiency because your phone doesn’t need to switch between different network types.

Continue browsing the Positivo Do Seu Jeito blog to learn more about technology and answer your main questions about notebooks, smartphones and software in an educational and accessible way.

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