One of the criticisms of 4GEE has been the quality and reliability of voice calls. While mobile internet connectivity has made a huge leap forward, many users have felt that this has been at the expense of the original purpose of mobile phones – the voice call. When 4G users make a voice call, they are actually dropping back onto the 3G or even 2G network to do so. It seems that EE has taken this on board, and has announced a new WiFi calling service as well as a trial of voice calls using its 4G network.
EE is set to launch a WiFi calling service in autumn 2014, which will be available to customers with handsets that can support the service. The carrier grade service is expected to allow customers to make voice calls, through their handset’s native dialler, with no need to rely on an app, and should be more reliable, and of a higher quality than unmanaged VoIP services over home, business, or public internet connections.
According to EE’s CTO Fotis Karonis “Our WiFi calling capability will let customers make calls where they have access to WiFi but not to the mobile network. The customer experience is seamless because it’s the same as making a network call and uses the normal call interface of the handset. This is a major part of our strategy to invest in giving customers the ability to make a call wherever they are, and we’re confident that this service can make a big difference to people in homes and large offices across the country, especially in the most rural areas, that don’t have mobile coverage.”
In general EE is making an ongoing investment in its network, which now carries around 900 million calls each week. In its test lab the network has been showing live 4G call services, known as VoLTE, and is expected to begin trialling this using the 800MHz spectrum, which has far greater reach than the commonly used 1800MHZ spectrum. 4G calling is not expected to be officially launched nationwide until some time in 2015, following a rigorous testing process.
EE appears to be taking the concerns over voice calls very seriously and has launched a number of initiatives to improve EE customers’ experience of voice calls on the current network:
- The MyEE App had been introduced and is being used on around 500,000 handsets. It identifies when a mobile handset enters an area with no voice coverage, and pings the network to give its location.
- EE is committed to halving the DCR, or dropped call rate, across the UK by the end of the year. It is already achieving 0.4% DCR in Derby where EE’s network is most advanced.
- The Platinum Project aims to ensure high quality voice calls for customers in the busiest parts of the UK. This involves identifying areas than need enhancing and reconfiguring local masts accordingly, and is being trialled in areas such as the M25 orbital and Canary Wharf.
- EE has already upgraded more than 6,000 2G sites and increased capacity on 2,000 3G sites to improve the quality and reliability of voice calls on its network.