Will 4G be the Game-changer

Anjli Kachroo
If one were to analyse the benchmarks set by the digitally advanced markets for 4G technology, one would realise that4G in its truest form is not just an incremental improvement over 3G, as widely perceived, but a digital and technological leap that could perhaps bea game-changer for our nation in 2016.
Although 4G has been heavily advertised as a technology that provides much higher data speeds than 3G, true 4G is all that and much more. 4Gtechnology operates on an LTE network, or a Long Term Evolution network, which is a technological advancement over GSM and CDMA networks. AnLTE network is capable of offeringdata connectivity that isfive times faster than aregular 3G network.
While 4G LTE network can be used to enjoy hi-speed data, the true magic of 4G lies in a cluster of highly-advanced features which can only be accessed through a VoLTE-enabled device.
The VoLTE edge
VoLTE, a hallmark of true 4G, stands for Voice over LTE.Itis a dialler integrated service thatdelivers high-speed and high-definition voice, video and messaging services on a 4G LTE network. Traditionally, userswereforced to fall back on over-the-top (OTT) applicationssuch as Skype or Viber to make voice or video calls. With VoLTE technology, a user can make HDvoiceor video calls of much greater quality, simplyusing the dial pad of his phone. Moreover, a callmade using VoLTE connectsin less than a second, which is five times faster than an average call made on a 2G or a 3G network.The user can also switchbetween voice and video callsor initiate 7-way audio conferences or 4-way video conferences with the press of a button, and that too without disconnecting an ongoing call.Another remarkable feature of VoLTE is ‘simultaneous talk and surf’.A usercan browse the web, continue a download, use an application, or activate mobile hotspotwhile being continuously on a call.
None of the existing technologies in the telecom industry, including OTT applications,provide the features mentioned above. VoLTE stands out as a major differentiator between the basic version of 4G and a True 4G.
HD voice and video calling through VoLTE
HD voice and HD video callsrequire both the caller and the receiver to use a VoLTE-enabled device. You will know you are on an HD Voice call when an HD icon appears on the upper right corner of your in-call screen.HD voice and videocalls are possible due toa technology calledwide-band audio. Normal networks limit audio frequencies to the range of 300 Hz to 3.4 KHz, whereas wide-band audio allows your device to operate at a frequency in the range of 50 Hz to 7 KHz. Wide-band audio technology makes voice sound natural. It also minimizes background noiseto makevoice sound clearer and sharper.
Wi-Fi calling
VoWiFi or Wi-Fi calling is another revolutionaryfeature built into the dialler pad of a 4G phone.VoWiFi stands for Voice over Wi-Fi and itallowsthe user to make a HD voice or a HD video call using any Wi-Fi network his device has access to.The user can switch between VoLTE andVoWiFiwithout disconnecting a call. If the user is stuck ina mall,where network coverage is often poor or non-existent, the device automaticallyswitches over to VoWiFi by latching on to the mall’s Wi-Fi network,and the HD call continues uninterrupted.VoWiFiis helpful for operators as it helps decongesttraditional voice networks such as 2G or 3G.
Moreover, Wi-Fi calling isa highly economical alternative for the useras calls made using VoWiFi, including international calls, are charged as per local rates.
It all boils down to a VoLTEdevice
The best of technologies need to be supported by the best of devices.While 4G technology indeed carries the potentialtorevolutionize the Indian digital space,features such as HD voice and video calling, 7-way audio conference, 4-way video conferences, simultaneous talk-and-surf, and Wi-Fi calling only function on a device that is VoLTE-enabled. Leading phone-makers across the industry have launched a wide variety of 4G LTE models that cater to every budget range. If the recent trend is any indicator, the Indian market has started migrating to the 4G ecosystem, that too rapidly. In the month of October 2015, a whopping 9.3 million units of 4G-enabled smartphones were reportedly sold in the Indian market, surpassing the sale of 3G-enabled handsets during the month. The surge in the sale of 4G-enabled smartphones is expected to continue in 2016. For a nation which aspires to transform itself into a digital superpower, the trend certainly bodes well.