PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has successfully made the country's first roaming call via Voice over LTE or VoLTE.
This milestone was made in partnership with KT Corp., Korea's largest telecommunications company.
With this capability in place, travelers with KT SIMs who are roaming in the Philippines can make and receive VoLTE calls, powered by Smart LTE, the country's fastest mobile network according to third-party analytics firms like Ookla and Opensignal.
"This is part of our initiatives to deliver world-class customer experience and make the best technologies like VoLTE available to more users, including roamers from other countries, as the travel sector gradually reopens with the arrival of the vaccines," said Mario G. Tamayo, Head of Technology at PLDT and Smart.
VoLTE, the first fully IP-based carrier-grade voice service, offers high-definition quality phone calls by using LTE networks instead of legacy voice networks. As such, VoLTE-to-VoLTE calls are crystal-clear, with almost no background noise.
Moreover, VoLTE users get the added benefit of being able to make or receive phone calls while using mobile data applications simultaneously – unlike in the traditional setup, where devices shift from LTE network to 2G or 3G mobile networks during a voice call. VoLTE also facilitates a much faster call setup, which reduces the waiting time for a call to connect.
Recently, Smart was also the first to launch its 5G roaming services with KT, allowing Smart prepaid and postpaid subscribers who are roaming in South Korea to enjoy 5G data roaming speeds using their Smart SIM and 5G device.
KT and Smart are members of the CONEXUS Mobile Alliance, which is composed of 9 member-telcos in Asia who are at the forefront of delivering innovative, customer-friendly services for customers of member operators who frequently travel on business.
CONEXUS is currently chaired by Katrina Luna-Abelarde, Head of PLDT and Smart’s International Carrier Business and concurrent Head of Strategic Partnerships. Despite roaming being the worst-hit telecom division by COVID-19, Smart and CONEXUS have continued to lay down roaming service improvements for international travelers.
First telco to rollout VoLTE
Last year, Smart was also the first telco to complete its VoLTE rollout to cover Smart Prepaid and Postpaid subscribers nationwide.
Subscribers can enjoy VoLTE at Smart LTE-covered areas across the country. Users only need to have a VoLTE-capable smartphone with a Smart LTE SIM to enjoy the service with another VoLTE user on the other end of the line.
To make VoLTE calls, subscribers need to enable VoLTE in their phone’s settings. Once activated, customers may simply use their phone’s native dialer to make calls – no separate app needed.
Richer call experience with Smart
Aside from VoLTE, Smart has also rolled out Voice-over-Wifi (VoWiFi) or Wi-Fi calling service to subscribers, which lets users make and receive calls and text messages over any Wi-Fi connection using their smartphone’s native dialer, without having to install another app.
Calls made with VoLTE and VoWiFi will be charged like normal calls against the customer’s active subscription. For customers without an active subscription, local and international voice and text rates will apply.
Fastest mobile data network
Smart’s VoLTE service is powered by Smart LTE, the country’s fastest mobile data network as certified by third-party mobile analytics firms, such as Opensignal and Ookla. To date, Smart’s mobile network covers 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
Enabling these services is PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country at over 478,000 kilometers as of end-March 2021.
PLDT and Smart’s relentless push to provide connectivity for all is aligned with the group’s long-standing commitment to help the Philippines attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.