Last month, we announced we had activated Cat M1 technology across our entire 4GX coverage footprint, becoming the first network operator in Australia to offer the technology while accelerating the growth of IoT-based businesses and applications across the country. Our IoT network is easily the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
In another Australian first, we have now completed a live over-the-air Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call over Cat M1. Together with our technology partners, Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson, this live VoLTE call demonstrated that voice can be carried along with data on emerging IoT devices and applications. This opens up new opportunities for delivering voice services in innovative device form factors and locations with new levels of cost, battery life and use case flexibility.
So how does VoLTE over Cat M1 work?
When standard voice calls are made on a VoLTE enabled handset, VoLTE works by integrating the call into the 4G data stream. When it comes to IoT, adding VoLTE to Cat M1 devices means those devices will have the ability to make voice calls to other devices, applications and use cases which could benefit from voice.
This will pave the way for new types of devices, applications and services for both consumers and enterprise.
For example, Telstra recently announced next generation eSIM technology, which allows customers to connect a wearable, like a smartwatch, directly to our mobile network and integrate an existing mobile number. With VoLTE over Cat M1, this could provide opportunities to further leverage the battery saving features of Cat M1 for use in wearables where voice services are required.
By combining voice enabled devices and infrastructure at low cost and in diverse locations in and out of the home, a number of other uses will come from this innovation – particularly if combined with the current explosion in voice recognition and voice enabled devices. From emergency calling panels in lifts to interactions with parking meters, information kiosks, cars or whitegoods, the possible use cases are expansive.
Demonstrating live VoLTE over Cat M1 is the first step to progressing these unique use cases. It is a significant new step in the evolution of how 4G connectivity can be enhanced, and how it enables new applications and services built upon standard network building blocks such as VoLTE.