As mobile networks continue to evolve, so do the technologies that enable voice communication.
With the introduction of 4G, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology was developed to allow voice calls to be made over a 4G LTE network, providing better call quality and faster connection times.
Now, with the rollout of 5G networks, a new voice technology called Voice over New Radio (VoNR) is being introduced.
In this article, we will explain briefly these technologies and explore the similarities and differences between VoLTE and VoNR and how they are transforming the mobile network landscape.
What is VoLTE
VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE, which is a technology that allows voice calls to be made over a 4G LTE network.
It carries voice calls as data packets over the IP network provided by the 4G/LTE network, resulting in crystal clear HD voice quality, faster call setup times, and flexibility for mobile operators to enhance voice calls.
VoLTE enables users to make HD calls on their phones without the need to switch between 4G and 2G/3G networks, leading to better user experience, no drop in background data speeds, faster calling, and improved battery life.
It requires both the mobile operator to provision VoLTE services and the handset to support VoLTE.
Benefits and How VoLTE Works (Briefly)
VoLTE (Voice over LTE) works by utilizing the data network of a 4G LTE network to transmit voice calls as data packets (similar to Voice over IP).
This is in contrast to traditional voice calls that rely on circuit-switched networks. Here is a breakdown of the working and benefits of VoLTE:
1. Voice Calls on Data Network:
VoLTE allows voice calls to be carried over the IP (Internet Protocol) network provided by the 4G LTE network. This means that voice calls are treated like data and transmitted using the same technology as internet data.
2. Better Voice Quality:
VoLTE enables high-definition (HD) voice calls with improved voice quality. It achieves this by utilizing better codecs and faster call setup times, resulting in clearer and more natural-sounding voice conversations.
Usually, VoLTE utilizes the AMR wideband (AMR-WB) codec which provides improved speech quality due to a wider speech bandwidth of 50–7000 Hz compared to narrowband speech coders.
3. Seamless Integration:
VoLTE seamlessly integrates voice and data services on the same LTE network. This eliminates the need for separate 2G or 3G networks for voice calls, reducing operational costs for mobile operators.
4. Requirements for VoLTE:
Both the mobile operator and the handset need to support VoLTE for it to work. The mobile operator must provision VoLTE services in the user’s profile, while the handset must be compatible and have the necessary software or firmware build to enable VoLTE.
What is VoNR
VoNR stands for Voice over New Radio. It is a technology that enables voice calls and texting over 5G networks. It uses the IP (Internet Protocol) network of 5G using packet switch technology.
VoNR provides improved clarity and quality for video and voice calls. It is the next-generation voice calling service on 5G SA (stand-alone) networks.
It also supports additional features such as simultaneous voice and data transmission, just like VoLTE. This technology improves the overall voice calling experience in the 5G network environment.
VoNR is the counterpart to VoLTE (Voice over LTE) used in 4G networks and performs the same function.
In standalone 5G networks, a 5G Cloud Native core network is used, while in non-standalone 5G networks, a 4G core network (EPC) is utilized for voice calls and text messages, enabled by VoLTE technology.
Benefits and How VoNR Works (Briefly)
To enable VoNR, a mobile network requires a dedicated 5G core network (5GCN) that works with the IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) to provide rich communication services.
When a VoNR call is initiated, the voice traffic is carried over the 5G NR interface instead of traditional circuit-switched networks. This enables faster call setup times and improved voice quality compared to previous generations of mobile networks.
VoNR relies on the underlying 5G network architecture, including the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) and the 5G Core Network. It involves the establishment and release of connections between the 5G RAN and the 5G Core, ensuring seamless communication between the user’s device and the network.
VoNR is positioning itself as the technology of the future. It’s not only aiming to revolutionize virtual communication as we know it but to also enable new opportunities for industries across the board. This makes mastering and adopting VoNR crucial in anticipating future telecommunication trends.
VoLTE vs VoNR
Let’s now highlight some similarities and differences between VoLTE and VoNR voice technologies.
VoLTE works on 4G mobile networks while VoNR works on 5G mobile networks. They both employee the concept of transmitting voice and multimedia packets over the IP protocol.
Voice Quality and Codecs
VoLTE usually utilizes the Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) codec, which offers high-quality voice transmission. The AMR-WB codec supports a wide frequency range, resulting in clearer and more natural-sounding voice calls.
On the other hand, VoNR usually employs the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec, which provides superior voice quality compared to AMR-WB. The EVS codec offers an extended frequency range (up to 20 kHz audio bandwidth), improved background noise cancellation, and enhanced speech intelligibility.
Although some carriers offer EVS codec to VoLTE as well, many carriers in the world offer the AMR-WB codec which is inferior to EVS.
When it comes to network coverage, VoLTE currently has the upper hand as 4G LTE networks are widespread and well-established. However, as 5G infrastructure continues its global expansion, coverage gaps will fill, likely giving VoNR the advantage in terms of both reach and quality of service.
Availability and Adoption
VoLTE has seen widespread global adoption and is available in numerous countries, supported by major network operators. The technology has become increasingly prevalent, offering enhanced voice services to millions of users globally.
VoNR on the other hand is a relatively new technology that is being progressively deployed in conjunction with the rollout of 5G networks. Its availability and adoption vary across regions, with some markets already offering VoNR services, while others are in the early stages of implementation.
Compatibility could be a primary challenge for VoNR. While VoLTE works with any 4G-enabled device, VoNR requires specific 5G support. The older devices that lack this new technology will not be able to access VoNR until they upgrade to 5G-compatible equipment.
While VoLTE and VoNR are both more efficient than their predecessors, there’s still a lot to uncover regarding their impact on battery life.
One of the advantages of VoLTE compared to legacy mobile voice technologies is its low battery consumption.
VoNR, with its rapid data transfer, might contribute to faster battery drainage. As the technology matures and devices become more optimized, battery support for VoNR is expected to improve.