PCCW-owned HKT, a mobile operator in Hong Kong, launched a low-latency voice call handover service between 3G and 4G networks using Huawei equipment based on 3GPP Release 10 technology.
The Chinese supplier hailed the commercial launch – initially available on the Samsung Note 3 smartphone – as a world first.
Huawei claimed other service highlights – aside from the “seamless” call handovers – were better quality video and clearer sound; faster voice call set-up (around 1 second for VoLTE-to-VoLTE calls); and “instant switching” between voice and video calls.
Alex Arena, HKT’s group managing director, described the newly-launched service as a “game changer”. HKT is the first operator in Hong Kong to launch VoLTE.
(After completing the purchase this week of Telstra’s stake in CSL, the territory’s largest mobile operator, HKT’s position is considerably strengthened as it moves from fifth-largest to number one spot in terms of subscribers).
While 3GPP Release 9 includes SRVCC (single radio voice call continuity), which allows LTE users to maintain voice calls when moving out of LTE coverage and moving within reach of either GSM or WCDMA circuit-switched networks, Release 10 stipulates an enhanced version – eSRVCC – which reduces call latency times when handovers are made
Chinese rival ZTE, earlier this year, said it was “helping” China Mobile deploy VoLTE services over the operator’s commercial TD-LTE network in Guangzhou province using e-SRVCC. But Huawei appears to be first with commercial deployment of its Release 10 platform.
“The new service signifies Huawei’s leading position in the VoLTE market,” boasted Ma Haixu, president of Huawei’s core network product line.
The Hong Kong launch represents significant progress for Samsung, too. It was only last September, courtesy of its SHANNON222 modem chipset (embedded in an LTE-Advanced variant of the Galaxy S4 now available in South Korea) that the South Korean manufacturer said customers using the device (on SRVCC-enabled networks) would be the first in the world to take advantage of the call handover technology on a commercial basis.
Ericsson and Qualcomm showcased the world’s first voice handover call between LTE and WCDMA networks using 3GPP-compliant SRVCC (Release 9) at MWC 2012.