EE to begin trialing calls over Wi-Fi in the UK, 4G support coming in 2015

By Rich Edmonds on 20 Jun 2014 06:08 am EDT

UK mobile operator EE has today announced trials for calls to be held over Wi-Fi will commence later this year. The trial is part of a £275 million investment in advanced voice capabilities, helping connect more rural parts of the UK who don't have the strongest levels of signal with EE. Launching the trial later this year, EE has also upgraded both 2G and 3G sites to handle the increased data usage across the network and make way for 4G calling services to launch in 2015.

The VoLTE (Voice over LTE) trial will see network coverage expanded in said rural areas utilizing low frequency spectrum. The company expects to exceed 90 percent coverage with its 4G voice upgrades, which will then lead EE to commercially launch the upgrades. What's neat is the MyEE app will be used to identify blackholes in signal coverage, informing technicians where improvements need to be made to provide a better service to customers.

20th June 2014 – EE is continuing its investment in making phone calls better for customers across the UK by introducing a WiFi calling capability. The carrier grade service will allow people to make calls, with a higher quality and greater degree of reliability than unmanaged VoIP services, from their home, office, corporate or public WiFi connection. Calls can be made through the phone's native dialler, with no need to rely on an app. Native SMS services are also available through the WiFi capability.

The WiFi calling service is set to launch in autumn 2014 on the latest handsets capable of supporting the service.

Fotis Karonis, CTO at EE, said:

"Our WiFi calling capability will let customers make calls where they have access to WiFi but not to the mobile network. The customer experience is seamless because it's the same as making a network call and uses the normal call interface of the handset. This is a major part of our strategy to invest in giving customers the ability to make a call wherever they are, and we're confident that this service can make a big difference to people in homes and large offices across the country, especially in the most rural areas, that don't have mobile coverage."

4G Voice

In recent demonstrations at the EE Test Lab, the company has also been showing live 4G call services (VoLTE), and will begin a trial later in 2014 using the 800MHz spectrum acquired in last year's auction. The trial will expand data and voice coverage, bringing service to a previously unconnected part of rural Oxfordshire. 800MHz spectrum has a significantly greater reach than 1800MHz spectrum so can be used by EE to significantly increase the geographical coverage of its data and voice network.

A full commercial launch of the capability will follow in 2015, when the technology has had chance to mature so that the highest level of quality can be achieved, and the EE 4G network exceeds 90% population coverage – essential to a viable 4G voice service.

Karonis adds: "4G calling, or VoLTE, is an exciting technology that we're going to be trialling in the coming months using our low frequency spectrum, bringing one of the world's best voice and data services to a part of rural Britain that has previously been unconnected. When we have rigorously tested the performance of 4G calling and made sure that it matches our 2G and 3G quality, we'll launch it nationwide on our 4G network."

HD Voice, a benefit of VoLTE, is widely available already on the EE network, with 3G coverage at greater than 98% and more than 5 million HD Voice-capable devices in use.

Ongoing Investment

With the EE network now carrying more than 900million calls each week, existing voice infrastructure is being upgraded on a week by week basis. More than 6,000 2G masts have had entirely new equipment installed in the last 18 months, and over 2,000 3G masts have had capacity doubled.

As a further part of this investment in phone calls – £275 million in 2013, and a further £275 million in 2014 – EE has also introduced three key initiatives to improve phone calls for its 26 million customers:

  • The capability of the MyEE App to identify when a device hits a whitespot, or 'no service' area, and ping the network to give its location. This enables the EE network teams to identify the exact spots where customers are not able to make calls, even in areas where coverage is generally good. The MyEE App is currently being used on more than half a million handsets
  • The nationwide ambition to halve the dropped call rate (DCR) in 2014, creating a world-leading call experience for customers. A rate of 0.4%, across both 2G and 3G, has already been consistently achieved in Derby, where the integration and optimisation of the EE network is at its most advanced stage
  • The 'Platinum Project', which aims to create a 'zero defect' phone call experience for customers in the busiest parts of the UK, giving the best possible quality of voice. Trial areas for the project include the entirety of the M25 Orbital, Canary Wharf and The Southbank. EE network teams are walking and driving thousands of miles in these areas to identify any areas that need enhancing, and reconfiguring local masts to ensure the best possible service

Reader comments

EE to begin trialing calls over Wi-Fi in the UK, 4G support coming in 2015


I honestly hope they massively improve the MyEE app on BlackBerry 10 before making bold promises such as using the app full stop, let alone using it to find out blackspots etc

I suppose now with the Amazon App Store, we "may" see a MyEE app become available in that app store OR they just put us out of our misery and publish the 100% Android apk to BlackBerry World and be done with it

I would die and go to heaven if they made a Native BB0 Cascades app but the likelihood of that is as much as me growing another 7 feet in height within 2 days...

This baffles me yo! The UK carriers are behind on 4G/LTE? How is that even possible when they were first on 3G back when the US carriers were now putting up Edge networks lol

Posted via CB10

Probably because they invested to much in 3G and will wait for 5G for the next big investment. Only updating larger Metro areas to LTE.

"Classic" better be called "Bold Q20" or "Bold 10" 

Is Voice over LTE really necessary? And what improvements does it bring vs 3G voice services?

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

Indeed! I happily remember my 8900 running on UMA and making calls over WiFi in 2009!

Still, twas a great service then, and I'm sure for many people in rural areas it will be a welcome addition/return.

Posted via CB10

Yeah, I'm surprised why they aren't relaunching that, it's got to be cheaper. Orange must have everything in place, and now that UMA is dead (R.I.P.) it's easier to implement a software based solution.

UMA (aka GAN) was fantastic - as an international traveller with a rural lifestyle it was a Godsend - at the time only Orange seemed to offer UMA usage in the UK on a small business contract

Wi-Fi Calling (9900) was nowhere near as good, but not bad

When I purchased my Q10 from EE (had to migrate from Orange to get 4G), EE promised me that Wi-Fi Calling on the Q10 would be available within 'a couple of months - EE are just waiting for BlackBerry to issue a software update'

9 months later.... STILL NO EE Wi-Fi Calling on my Q10!

Erm I've got a Z10 and I'm on EE and this is welcome news to have..

Stop commenting crap

Check Out [URL="bbmc: C0008DDD1"]TechCraze[/URL]

Completely agreed with you, this is EE (network) related, nothing mentions BBRY in the article or how will that benefit blackberry users.

Some "off-topic" but mobile related posts are actually welcome after an all-day BBRY info overload.

We have users on all kinds of carriers, and for sure they're interested in what's happening...

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

Good question. I know that my carrier in the US--TMO--has launched voLTE, and small software updates are being pushed out (so far only to Android phones, that I know of.) Who's pushing these updates out--I don't know. But mind you, these are phones launched pre-voLTE, so maybe future phones including BBs will come ready for it out of the box.

BlackBerry writes IMS into the OS already so there's an excellent chance that the code won't change. The only effort will be on EE's side for testing. BB could take the Tmo on/off app, rebrand the graphics and be done.

[posted via CB10]

I wish Vodafone would do this. My mobile signal is an absolute dog most of the time, and I miss calls and texts constantly at home. Routing it through the wifi would be great.

I get great reception on Vodafone but my son has a crap reception on EE. All the carriers in the UK need to improve their coverage so it covers all areas. Same with 4G, it's brilliant in any big city but drops to 2G or 3G in other areas!

Posted via CB10

All this means to me is that EE are looking to start charging you for using your own Wifi for something you can already do, for free, today.

I call internationally for free over any wifi to any BBM friends/family I have now, via my Q10 or my PlayBook.

I see no reason for this or am I missing something????

Posted via CB10

Pfft wouldn't trust EE as far as I could throw them! Think am going to go to three and get my 4G at no extra cost EE customer services are an apsalute frikkin JOKE!

Posted via CB10

This would allow people who have poor signal (such as myself) to make/receive calls on their normal mobile number rather than using a separate service such as Skype. As people have said, like UMA. Very welcome as I've been waiting months for an EE signal box


So the only advantage is you can call landline numbers via Wifi. Mobile to Mobile you can make Wifi calls today, right now via BBM.

I don't get paying for something I can have for free.

Posted via CB10

I'm still using UMA on my blackberry 9720 in orange. It's great as no signal where I live. Hope this comes soon.

Posted via CB10

We will never see this on EE. I was promised they were working on contactless payment, but it never materialised. I was promised they'd fix my non-working call divert. Nothing.

All EE offer BlackBerry 10 users is empty promises and bluster.

Posted via CB10

After years of free calls (uma) the Wifi calling on various BlackBerry devices....i welcome it but....and a big but.....any sign of it in this century?

Posted via CB10