India’s largest wireless provider by subscribers, Bharti Airtel, has launched VoLTE services in Mumbai, with plans to make the service available nationwide before the end of March 2018. The launch makes Airtel only the second of the sector’s eleven active mobile operators to introduce the platform after aggressive newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), which began using VoLTE in September 2016. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Airtel was the first of India’s wireless providers to launch LTE services back in April 2012 but despite having initially announced plans to introduce VoLTE in early 2013, it was not until January 2016 that the cellco began testing the technology, with the shortage of compatible handsets understood to be the main reason for the delay.
Commenting on the move, the Economic Times quotes Airtel’s networks director Abhay Savargaonkar as saying: ‘With the VoLTE compatible device ecosystem beginning to mature, we believe it’s the right time to enable VoLTE calling as part of our service portfolio. Over the next few months, we will rapidly accelerate the deployment of VoLTE to cover all key geographies to bring HD quality calling to our customers. We keenly look forward to our device partners enabling Airtel VoLTE on their smartphones.’