Safaricom has launched Voice and Video over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) technology that enables customers with VoLTE supporting devices to make voice and video calls over its 4G network. The benefits of this technology compared to existing telco technologies include ability to deliver better voice quality more efficiently (by default VoLTE will offer high definition call quality) and richer communication features (video calls and ability to switch between voice and video). The LTE network, being a much more efficient network, will be able to handle more voice calls (three times as much as 3G and six times as much as 2G), will have less call drops while in motion and greater signal reach (The 800MHz is one of the frequency bands that Safaricom uses in its LTE network. The 800 MHz has better propagation characteristics compared to other higher frequencies). Research by Nokia Networks Smart Labs also shows that these carrier grade technologies consume less smartphone battery, require less bandwidth and fewer connections compared to Over the Top alternatives.
We expect a slow uptake of this technology since not all smartphones support the requisite features (chicken and egg problem). Although the company is not levying additional charges for this service, we opine that the service would see better uptake (at the same time accelerating 4G/LTE uptake) if the service was offered at subsidized rates compared to existing voice packages.