The telecoms industry has a great skill of turning simple concepts into confusing terminology, initialisms and acronyms. It can be a minefield when researching new telephony for your business. In this article, we're going to explore VoIP and VoLTE, what they are, their similarities and their differences.
VoIP is the modern method for making and receiving calls. Traditionally, voice calls use the PSTN; however, VoIP uses the internet. This means that you don't have to have multiple telephone lines. All you need to make and receive VoIP calls is a broadband connection.
Businesses using VoIP is becoming increasingly common. With 70% of business owners looking to move away from their traditional on-site PBX, to a VoIP-based telephone system.
VoLTE stands for Voice Over LTE (Long Term Evolution) is VoIP, but over a mobile network. Whereas a VoIP connection uses your broadband or fixed line, VoLTE uses your mobile phone and 4G/3G data connection. As you're probably aware, LTE is the technical name for data connectivity using the mobile network.
The diagram above shows how VoLTE works, using the GSM mobile network rather than fixed broadband lines. The most common use of VoLTE today is mobile softphones. Many VoIP telephone systems have built-in mobile capability, allowing staff to take their phone system on the road with them on a mobile app. This feature uses VoLTE technology, coupled with a cloud telephone system.
Despite VoLTE and VoIP being similar technologies, they do have their differences.
VoIP is more common
In 2019, VoIP is a more common method of telephone calls by businesses. With more and more businesses moving the a cloud-based telephone system, this increases the number of VoIP calls made in the UK. The rise in VoIP traffic has been significant in recent years. But that's not to say that VoLTE is uncommon, as many businesses also use VoLTE to keep in touch with staff who are out and about and on the road.
VoLTE only uses mobile devices
Mobile devices use VoLTE, deskphones and PC's use VoIP. It's arguably the main difference between the two. Because VoLTE uses your GSM or cellular data connection, it cannot be used by devices that don't have a SIM card. Mobile phones and some tablets have LTE capabilities, and are therefore able to use VoLTE. Whereas many businesses have deskphones and PC's in their office that use VoIP, not VoLTE.
VoIP is more reliable
Another difference between VoIP and VoLTE is the reliability. Whilst recent infrastructure upgrades have made the UK's mobile network stronger than ever, there are still black spots, especially in more rural locations. This makes VoLTE less robust as it relies on a 'decent' connection to the mobile network (such as a 3G or 4G connection). VoIP requires a fixed line, which is typically more reliable, especially with fibre optic broadband.
As you can probably imagine for two technologies that essentially do they same thing, there are quite a few similarities between VoIP and VoLTE.
They use the same technology
Both VoIP and VoLTE use 'packet switching'. This means that they transfer your voice calls using data (that's binary 1s and 0s), rather than the traditional analogue method. Using packet switching enables higher quality voice calls, as well as a more reliable connection. But it does require a decent broadband connection.
Both work in tandem
VoIP and VoLTE work seamlessly side-by-side in the real world. In fact, many people will be using VoLTE without even realising. If you've ever made a Whatsapp, Facetime or Facebook messenger call using your mobile while you're not connected to Wi-Fi, then you're using VoLTE. And if your business has a VoIP phone system and you call one of your mobile users while they're out and about, then chances are you're using VoLTE and VoIP together as one.
VoIP and VoLTE can improve your telecoms
In case you haven't realised, both VoIP and VoLTE can save your business money, time and improve your telecoms. By removing the need for costly on-site hardware, small businesses can benefit from no maintenance, free upgrades, free handsets, 5,000 included minutes as well as a wealth of great features. Check out our VoIP phone systems here.