Feeds

Soz, BT: All EE's 4G goodies still won't give you 'seamless voice'

Has BT promised to deliver something it cannot?

Application security programs and practises

BT can't seem to kick the mobile habit. Since selling O2 (nee BT Cellnet) to Telefonica back in 2002, the former state-owned telco has been in bed with all of the mobile operators. Now it has signed up with EE.

What makes it interesting this time around is that BT now has spectrum. This makes the big difference between BT being an mobile network operator (MNO) and a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

That spectrum is a small slice of 2.6GHz which BT bought in the 2011 4G auctions. BT hasn't enough spectrum to cover the whole country and to have full coverage it would really want 800MHz as well. This is why BT needs EE – which has the adjoining blocks – so that its customers can roam.

The network Three has made a similar deal to give its customers 2G coverage, but over time as Hutchinson 3's network has built out its 3G and now 4G coverage, that has become less important.

But falling back from 4G (LTE) to 3G is much harder than falling back from 3G to 2G was 12 years ago. Not least because no one has figured out how to do voice.

El Reg spoke to SKT - the Korean network which runs 4G voice or VoLTE (Voice over 3G Long Term Evolution) – which said the best way to deal with the problems of handing over voice from LTE to 3G is to build out your LTE network to a level where you don't have to do it.

But this option is not open to BT, which only has 50MHz of spectrum.

BT is remaining tight-lipped on its launch plans but in a financial presentation at the end of last year it claimed the 4G spectrum will "extend Wi-Fi using licensed spectrum for great range, quality of service guarantee for voice and video which integrates seamlessly".

This poses some interesting technical hurdles. If BT wants to have seamless voice and video from its Wi-Fi to LTE that's tough. Signalling hand-off is complex. If it wants to do voice through EE and is asking EE to support VoLTE to 3G fallback, that's something a lot of people are working on but no one can do reliably yet.

Handing off from BT Wi-Fi or BT's 2.6GHz to EE on 2G, 3G or even LTE is a very interesting proposition – with all kinds of billing system implications as well as the significantly non-trivial voice-routing issues.

We asked BT to confirm its plans for its 4G spectrum, and asked how it expected to deliver "seamless voice". The former national telco responded: "We don't have anything to add at this time".

EE unsurprisingly won't comment on what it will be supplying to its new customer. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.