You’ve got to admit, the way EE rolled out and tested VoLTE (what it calls, 4G Calling) since last year has been rather unique. But today, it has been made available throughout EE’s 4G network.
At no point did EE officially announce or promote the customer trial, although it didn’t deny it to anyone that asked either. More recently, it created a thread on EE’s community forum for users to discuss the rollout progression.
The areas where VoLTE was made available kept increasing until today it reached 100% of EE’s 4G network.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still more to do.
For one, it requires adding more handsets to the list of supported devices. But secondly, and more importantly, VoLTE allows 4G coverage to expand beyond the current 2G and 3G footprints. This will help EE achieve its ambitious goal of 95% geographic coverage by 2020.
Like VoLTE, EE has been trialling 800MHz in limited areas, although generally not for public access. When this goes live, predominantly in rural areas but also in some towns, it will make a huge difference to indoor coverage and performance.
EE will prioritise 800MHz 4G above 3G, as the total opposite of how Three has opted to configure its network. Thus, EE will connect in the following order: 2600MHz 4G, 1800MHz 4G, 800MHz 4G, 2100MHz 3G – and then 2G. Three has its network set as 1800MHz 4G, 2100MHz 3G and then 800MHz 4G as a ‘last resort’.
How you can use 4G calling on EE
Only a limited number of handsets can be used with 4G Calling, and only available EE customers on a pay monthly consumer or business plan can use it too, meaning pay as you go users miss out. For now at least.
EE will now need to work on introducing support for more devices, including handsets purchased elsewhere and brought over to EE’s network. This also includes adding Wi-Fi Calling, which is just as important as VoLTE for offering better indoor coverage.
The 4G Calling compatible devices list is currently as follows:
- iPhone 6, 6 plus, 6S, 6S plus and iPhone SE (purchased anywhere, service must be turned on by user in the settings menu)
- Lumia 550, 650, 950 and 950 XL (purchased anywhere, turned on by default)
- BlackBerry Priv (purchased from EE only, turned on by default)
- Sony Xperia X (purchased from EE only, turned on by default)
As you can see, for everyone but iPhone users, VoLTE will now be working straight away without you having to do anything – although make sure you have checked for a firmware update. It really is that simple!
Please let me know your experiences with 4G calling so far. Have you been able to hang on to a call when moving from 4G to 2G/3G (or vice versa) or from Wi-Fi calling to 4G? Have you found yourself able to use 800MHz already from one of the test sites? How good has the call quality been?