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Three UK announces VoLTE launch and 800 MHz roll-out

Three store

Hot on the heels of network enhancement announcements from rivals EE and Vodafone, Three UK had beaten them both to the punch with the commercial launch of VoLTE as well as the roll-out of its 800 MHz spectrum.

Three is marketing VoLTE + 800 MHz as 4G Super-Voice to try to make the concept a bit easier for consumers to digest. It is explaining the coverage (rural and indoor) benefits of lower frequency spectrum, but is dodging the usual VoLTE USPs such as HD voice, wifi calling handover, uninterrupted 4G, etc. Three does say it will be the first to offer VoLTE, but for now it’s not saying why people should care.

“Not being able to use your phone as and when you want, no matter where you are, is one of the biggest pain points for customers,” said Danny Dixon, Director of Customer Strategy at Three. “Today’s announcement is the latest step in our efforts to offer customers a quality experience on what is already the UK’s most reliable network.”

Bryn Jones, CTO at Three, added: “By the end of the year, one million of our customers will have access to better indoor coverage and be able to use their phones in more places than ever before. We are proud to be the first network to roll this out across the country.”

To be clear Three is saying over a million of its customers are expected to have a VoLTE-enabled handset by the end of 2015, requiring only an OTA software update, and it does make reference to the 2×5 MHz of 800 MHz spectrum it acquired in the 2013 auction. Three also claims ‘4G Super-Voice already covers 50% of the UK population for indoor coverage and more than three quarters of London, Edinburgh, Exeter and Birmingham.’

This is a significant strategic coup for Three as its rivals have all been keen to position themselves strongly for the VoLTE era. EE spoke to Telecoms.com about both its VoLTE and its 800 MHz plans last week, perhaps in anticipation of this announcement. Meanwhile Vodafone launched its wifi calling at the end of last week and will feel renewed pressure to get a move on with VoLTE.

Explore the latest developments in VoLTE at the LTE Voice Summit on September 28-30 in London

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One comment

  1. james vincent 16/09/2015 @ 11:33 am

    This is great news. But… I have recently bought a Huawei P8 [from CPW – Carphone Warehouse] I made sure it supports 800MHz band for this VoLTE launch.
    I’ve recently been told you will not push a firmware upgrade out to any phones that have not been sold direct from Three. This is not acceptable as the only reason I went to CPW is ‘cos a 3Store advisor refused to sell me a phone as I wanted to replace my contract phone. I told him I was willing to pay out right for a PAYG handset & was in store to find out more details on phones as your website is limited on the info it gives. He told me to buy from the site.
    Please tell the bosses that you need to support every phone that uses your networks wherever they came from in the UK. I’ve wasted a lot of money which I thought would benefit me in the long run only to be let down. I dont have 4G 1800MHz coverage where I live. I would be happy to use 4G 800MHz without the Voice capabilities. I had planned on keeping this phone for some time to come. Now it seems I’m to be stuck with the black spots that I’ve I’ve been putting up, because I’ve been expecting the joys of LTE 800.

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