Libson, Portugal: UK mobile phone operator, Three, has stated that its new voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, called 4G Super-Voice, has run into several issues including that some customers of the service have accidentally roamed onto other operators’ networks.
Speaking at WeDo Technologies’ Worldwide User Group & Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Stuart Waton, revenue assurance team leader at Three UK, said that the new service, which launched in the UK in September 2015, has randomly allowed users to roam onto other networks. He added that, “we didn’t know this could happen”.
This random roaming has caused financial loss for Three. Citing an example of a customer travelling in the Caribbean, Waton said a VoLTE call made back to the UK that should have cost around £16 actually cost the customer something in the region of £0.03.
He commented: “On VoLTE interconnect, we have seen instances where Three [UK] VoLTE users have been able to roam onto other networks.” He said the calls are counted as a data call by the other network, adding, “We are working with the other operators to understand what happened”.
Three raced to launch its VoLTE product to market before the competition, hoping to cash in on the advantage the technology brings; better indoor coverage for end users. Waton stated that VoLTE, “is addressing the historical issues our customers have had; it makes a real difference to our customer base”.
The service currently claims 65% UK population coverage, with the roll out continuing throughout 2016.
A further issue for Three’s VoLTE quest has been low adoption of the service due to the lack of compatible handsets. Waton commented: “We have had some issues with the adoption of the 4G service; at the moment it is limited to handsets that have received an upgrade. The list is being expanded, but it does make an issue.”
He added that this problem is further complicated as only devices purchased by consumers directly from Three can be upgraded; for instance, an iPhone bought from Apple cannot. Waton noted that because of Apple’s strict rules on what can be done to its devices, the mobile operator ended up releasing compatible iPhones later than expected.
However, Waton noted that around 0.08% of calls made through its network in the UK are now VoLTE. “That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s one out every 125,” he said.
Based on a Three’s acquisition of the low frequency 800 MHz spectrum, the VoLTE service allows a mobile signal to travel much further into buildings and extends its reach to more rural areas, boosting many of the current coverage blackspots across the country, said the operator at the time of the service launch. This means that customers will be able to make calls, send texts and get online in places that previously had poor or no signal.