Handset makers pushing to back VoLTE service
By Cho Mu-hyun
Amid intense competition among domestic handset manufacturers to make superior phones, the current industry gold medal standard they are racing to achieve are products with voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) services.
All three telecos ― SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus ― have announced launch dates for VoLTE, which shifts the transmission of voice calls from a third generation network to a LTE one. LG Uplus will make it available from as early as August and the other two firms are pushing for the same time, ahead of their previously announced September launches.
Only two handsets currently in the market, Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S3 and LG Electronics’ Optimus LTE 2, support VoLTE services, according to industry sources.
Samsung plans to support the upgraded voice call service via a software upgrade. SK Telecom and KT have all used the latest model from the Galaxy S series to showcase the technology.
The company plans to release its “flagship” phone for the second half of the year tentatively called Galaxy Note 2, which will have embedded technology to support VoLTE.
One industry official, who declined to be named, said that although LG Electronics is considering a similar software upgrade for it, Optimus LTE 2, will likely support VoLTE much later than Galaxy S3, or not at all.
Rather, the official said the Yeouido-based firm will offer the service for a new phone that will have a quad-core processor. LG Electronics Chief Financial Officer Jung Do-hyun said that the company is ready to rollout smartphones with more advanced technology for the second half.
According to a company representative, the new smartphone to be released in the second half will contain Qualcomm’s MDM 9615 application processor. The official said that software upgrades can make VoLTE possible for phones but lacks in quality because it doesn’t use embedded hardware to support it.
Pantech, Korea’s smallest handset maker is without a model that can support the enhanced voice services. Current Pantech phones such as Vega Racer 2 use the United States-based chip giant’s MSM 8960, which requires software upgrades for the new voice call services. “The key thing about voice calls is to ensure maximum quality and clarity for voice calls, and the company will release a phone when a mobile device can offer the best quality.
For full commercialization of VoLTE, a fee for the service must be paid to the Korea Communications Commission (KCCE) and approved. The nation’s top telecom regulator has not yet announced any set guidelines on the charges.