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Three launches 4G Super Voice to eliminate 4G blackspots, but is your phone compatible?

Katharine Byrne
15 Sep 2015
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New 800MHz spectrum will finally let you make calls inside your home and enable voice services to run on 4G

Three has launched its new 4G Super Voice service, the company has announced today. Powered by "Voice-over-LTE" (or VoLTE) technology, Three's 4G Super Voice service should dramatically improve indoor and rural coverage across the Three network. 

Based on a new 800MHz spectrum, which will run alongside Three's existing 3G 2,100MHz and 4G 1,800MHz spectrums, the 4G Super Voice service allows signals to travel much further than before, helping it penetrate those dreaded 4G blackspots inside your home and in remote rural areas. This should mean customers will finally be able to make calls, send texts and get online in places where they previously had very poor signal.  

When Three originally announced its VoLTE service back in April, Three's Chief Technical Officer Bryn Jones likened it to the thumping bass you might hear from a party down the street. As it's a lower frequency, it can travel much further than standard 4G - up to three times further, according to Jones - allowing it penetrate those hard to reach areas that normal 4G signals simply can't get to.  

"Our aim is to keep our customers connected wherever they are," said Jones. "Adding low frequency spectrum to our network and enabling voice calls over 4G and Wi-Fi, will mean Three customers can stay connected in more places than ever before. "With roaming at no extra cost also available in 18 destinations, Three is doing more than any other network to give our customers a reliable, quality experience wherever they are."

It will also finally allow customers to make calls over 4G as well. At the moment, Three's 4G network only runs data services, so if you want to make a call, you'll automatically fall back onto its 3G network. 4G Super Voice, however, will enable 4G voice services, enhancing the quality of your calls while speeding up connection rates and set up times.

4G Super Voice already covers 50% of the UK population for indoor coverage, said Three, and it already covers three quarters of London, Edinburgh, Exeter and Birmingham. The service will also be rolling out in many other cities across the country, including Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol, and Three expects more than 1 million customers will be able to use Super Voice by the end of the year, and up to 5.5 million customers will have access to 4G Super Voice by 2017. 

Does your phone work with 4G Super Voice?

However, there is a slight catch. You need a compatible phone in order to use it, and right now, only the Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G4 support the service, a Three spokesperson confirmed to me. However, Three expects that most current handsets will have the service before the end of the year, including all iPhone 6 models (including the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus), the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, HTC One M9, the Microsoft Lumia 640 and Nokia Lumia 735. Therefore, any handset older than two years, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, is unlikely to support the service. 

To take advantage of Three's 4G Super Voice service, customers will need to be running the latest OS software update on their device. When the update is ready for a customer's particular handset, they'll receive an alert along with instructions on how to update. 

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