Vimpelcom (Beeline) will offer trial services of mobile voice-over-Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) from tomorrow (18 August 2015), beginning in Moscow and the surrounding Moscow region, available to post-paid customers with the Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 smartphone. Anna Aybasheva, press secretary at Vimpelcom, told Russian news site ComNews that VoLTE usage will not affect the rates for calls, which will be billed according to the user’s standard tariff plan; she added that the number of Beeline subscribers with 4G-capable devices in the Moscow region has tripled over the last year to more than one million. Sergey Rubtsov, regional director of the Moscow region at Vimpelcom, said that the operator is currently in talks with various smartphone manufacturers to support a much wider range of VoLTE devices as soon as possible.
Vimpelcom plans to expand VoLTE to other regions of Russia, although has not yet issued a list of locations or timetable. Full commercial VoLTE services are yet to be permitted under Russian regulations, but Vimpelcom has been allowed to operate an initial three-month VoLTE trial service after passing the required tests for compatibility with Russia’s SORM (System for Operative Investigative Activities) – a technical system which enables the authorities to carry out surveillance on communications networks. According to Ms Aybasheva, the regulatory documents covering the legal acts for the implementation of commercial VoLTE are ‘in the works and should enter into force in the near future.’ Beeline’s main cellular rivals Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and MegaFon are also technically ready to launch VoLTE and are awaiting permission from the regulator to introduce the service.