Technology is constantly changing and with it, communication is changing. From landlines to instant messaging, businesses continue to evolve to meet the needs of their employees and customers. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution) are two solutions for delivering voice calls over mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. So when comparing VoIP vs VoLTE many people wonder or ask if they are the same. The easy answer is no.
The two technologies offer different levels of voice performance on mobile devices, but VoIP provides a wide range of other communications services on the same mobile platform. Some VoLTE providers may offer a limited range of additional services, but the technology is only suitable for mobile devices. VoIP, in contrast, is a widely used solution for office-based mobile and remote communications.
Now voice over IP (VoIP) is a widely known and used technology throughout the world, both for consumers and business users. VoIP applications include Skype, FaceTime, and Viber. In fact, there’s a good chance that the phone sitting on your desk is a VoIP phone, and most businesses have been slowly migrating toward this technology away from their older analog and digital phone systems. VoIP sends voice packets over the Internet the same way it sends data packets. Your phone transmits the voice packet, and the packets get shuttled along the Internet by-ways. There is no difference in the way the voice packets get sent. Data or voice has the same priority.
Today, when we use a VoIP application, the packets (the actual voice digitized to data) are sent over the Internet from the sender to the receiver. The issue here is that that packet, when sent over the public Internet, is treated like any other type of data packet, such as web traffic or video streaming. When it’s sent over the public Internet, it’s treated as a best effort, meaning that your voice packet doesn’t have any special priority over any other packet, which can affect the quality of your call. This is where the major difference between VoIP and VoLTE becomes clear.
In a VoLTE network, packets are given special priority. They have a quality of service capability built into them that results in much higher-quality phone calls. Many people are reporting that when VoLTE becomes ubiquitous, the call quality will be nothing like what we have experienced in the past and will set a new bar for voice calls. A VoLTE network offers a number of benefits:
- VoLTE calls have been measured and greatly exceed the quality of existing 3G and 4G voice calls. They have even been rated as having a higher quality than high-definition Skype calls.
- Over a congested or loaded VoLTE network, call quality has been rated higher that other web applications, such as Skype.
- The amount of time required to initialize a VoLTE call was measured as twice as fast as a typical 3G call.
- A VoLTE call uses fewer resources on both a handset and over the network, resulting in longer battery life for the end user and a more efficient network for the mobile operator.
The technology carries high expectations among network operators and consumer that it will be leaps and bounds ahead of what we have today in terms of call quality and resource efficiency, but until the networks have been rolled out nationally and consumers are making VoLTE-to-VoLTE calls with each other, it’s difficult to measure and appreciate the full impact that VoLTE will provide.
VoIP vs VoLTE
VoIP on mobile devices
VoIP is available on laptops, cell phones, smartphones and tablets with high-speed Internet access with the use of a software application known as a softphone. Users can make voice calls on 3G or 4G cellular networks. If they have smartphones or higher specification laptops and tablets, they can use the full range of VoIP services, as if they were using an office phone. Services include text, instant messaging, chat, audio and video conferencing, as well as special features like Presence or Follow Me.
VoLTE on mobile
VoLTE, unlike VoIP, is a mobile-only technology for use on devices connected to 4G LTE cellular networks. To make voice calls, both caller and receiver must be connected to a 4G network. 4G LTE networks support both voice and data transmissions, and it is possible for users to access both services simultaneously. The high-speed capability of this technology also supports video calling between enabled devices on the same network, although availability depends on the service provider.
VoLTE has the capability to support rich communications services (RCS), such as file transfer and video voicemail, but deployment to date has been limited, and VoLTE remains essentially a technology for making mobile voice calls.
Both VoIP and VoLTE offer HD (High definition) voice calls. VoLTE claims to offer superior voice quality because of its high-speed 4G Internet connection (currently a minimum of 100 megabits per second), which is faster than the 3G service generally used by VoIP. However, to ensure call quality, VoLTE phones require QoS (Quality of Service) on the network. QoS aims to control jitter and prioritize voice over other traffic on the network. HD-call quality is only available if both caller and receiver have HD-enabled 4G devices.
VoIP calls travel over the Internet without a QoS feature, which means that some calls may be subject to loss of quality because of network congestion or slower access speeds. Some service providers overcome this problem by offering a private Internet service. VoLTE also offers faster call connection times, although this may not be important to the majority of users.
Mobile VoIP users can access their service over 3G or 4G networks. VoLTE is only available on 4G LTE networks. VoIP users on 3G networks enjoy broad national and international coverage because the majority of carriers and service providers offer this service. VoLTE users can only use their phones in areas where 4G coverage is available.
Currently, 4G service is not available in all parts of the world, or from all carriers. 4G services delivered by different carriers may not be compatible, which may further limit the use of VoLTE services. Analysts commented that until all carriers make the service available, growth will be limited by the requirement that both parties on a VoLTE call must have a compatible 4G connection. In addition, VoLTE users traveling between zones where 4G availability varies may lose service if 4G is not available. VoIP users connected to 4G can revert to 3G if they move into an area with no 4G coverage. That makes VoIP more flexible while carriers are still building out their 4G networks.
Long-term growth for VoLTE depends on increased deployments by carriers and greater interoperability between different services. That will increase the number of calls VoLTE users can make to other VoLTE-enabled users. However, with voice calling as its primary focus, VoLTE may find it hard to meet the growing demand for multichannel solutions and innovative forms of communication. VoIP already offers this wider communications capability. As the established voice component for Unified Communication solutions, it has a strong position in the enterprise market. And its compatibility with WebRTC will extend its versatility and application even further. If the technology decision were based solely on voice capability, then VoLTE has a long-term future. But that is too narrow a view of the modern communications environment, and VoLTE must evolve down a broader path if it wants to part of the modern communications landscape.
The essential difference between VoIP and VoLTE is the technology. VoLTE is specially designed for 4G, LTE networks. VoIP uses both 3G and 4G equally well. Some of the newer smartphone technologies are built to take advantage of VoLTE technology.