Every now and then, Telstra and Optus release information on their software updates for major handsets, and while it’s not usually all that interesting, occasionally there are some highlights which pop out.
In last week’s updates, Telstra begun the deployment of updates for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, S7 and S7 Edge which will enable Video calling over LTE (or ViLTE for short). An update for the Galaxy S6 will follow on November 6.
Telstra have a little bit of information about Video over LTE on their CrowdSupport forum. As the name implies, ViLTE will only work in 4G or 4GX coverage areas, and unlike voice calls, ViLTE uses both a voice channel and video over data, meaning you need to have pretty reasonable reception to make it work. Further, it will use minutes from your plan’s call inclusions, as well as data for the video component.
Telstra’s VoWiFi is (or will be) kicking off soon, and just as the name implies, it will allow compatible handsets to make calls over WiFi instead of a carrier network. There are restrictions here, too, in that the calls have to be over a “supported” fixed broadband connection, and only limited handsets are supported (Galaxy S6 Edge+ and S6 Edge at the moment). Which connections are supported, and which aren’t, remains to be seen. Presumably there’s some sort of service qualification here to ensure there’s enough bandwidth for a call to be usefully made.
Regardless, Video over LTE is the kind of thing where most people probably don’t care about the detail; they only care if they can make calls or video calls. In the case of video calls, though, I suspect ViLTE will be slow to gain traction — if it does at all — because most of those making video calls are likely using alternative solutions like Skype, Hangouts or maybe even Google’s Duo.
Optus will soon be rolling out updates to enable VoLTE on Samsung’s Galaxy S6 range as well, though that’s not expected until mid November. No word on ViLTE though, but then again, Optus haven’t been talking about that technology much either.