Three's Voice over LTE launch means better signal in more places

There's more than one way to wipe out a not-spot, and to compliment Three's inTouch app for WiFi calling, the carrier has today become the first in the UK to add Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support to its mobile network. Simply put, VoLTE -- or "4G Super Voice," as Three's branding team would prefer you call it -- uses your 4G connection to handle calls (when appropriate), instead of older 2G and 3G networks. That part isn't particularly important, however, but it means customers will be able to call, text and check Instagram in places they haven't been able to before. In addition to its existing 1,800MHz slice of 4G spectrum, Three's been building out an 800MHz network to support VoLTE services. These lower frequency airwaves probe further into underserved rural areas, and deeper into buildings, lavishing mobile coverage on previous dead zones.

But, there is one catch: you need a VoLTE-compatible phone and the right software to take advantage of it. Three tells us only Samsung's Galaxy S5 and LG's G4 will work right away, but before the end of the year, many popular handsets like the iPhone 6/6 Plus (and their impending sequels), HTC's One M9, and a handful of Lumia and other Galaxy models will be supported. At launch today, Three claims its 800MHz network covers 50 percent of the population, and the majority of London, Edinburgh, Exeter and Birmingham. By the end of the year, that figure is expected to jump to 65 percent as the umbrella widens to more towns and cities including Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol.

Three might be the first UK carrier to launch VoLTE services, but Vodafone and EE can't be too far behind. They had both previously penned in summer launch windows, so we'll probably be hearing updates from the pair soon enough. Just last week, Vodafone joined EE in switching on its app-free WiFi calling service, one of the benefits of that being seamless call handover between VoLTE networks.

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