Bharti Airtel on Monday announced the launch of its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services in Mumbai, stepping up competition with market rival Reliance Jio Infocomm .
In a statement issued on Monday, Airtel said its VoLTE service, which works on 4G, will offer customers HD quality voice calls along with faster call set up time.
"This is a significant milestone in Airtel`s network transformation journey under Project Leap. Airtel has built a world-class 4G network across India and with the VoLTE-compatible device ecosystem beginning to mature, we believe it`s the right time to enable VoLTE calling as part of our service portfolio," said Abhay Savargaonkar, Bharti Airtel's director for networks.
"Over the next few months, we will rapidly accelerate the deployment of VoLTE to cover all key geographies to bring HD quality calling to our customers. We keenly look forward to our device partners enabling Airtel VoLTE on their smartphones," he added.
Airtel VoLTE will be available on 4G / LTE-enabled mobile devices, which have an Airtel 4G SIM, the company said.
"Customers can call any mobile, landline network using Airtel VoLTE. There will be no additional data charges for VoLTE and calls will be billed as per existing plan or packs benefits," it added.
Meanwhile, Reliance Jio has alleged that Airtel misrepresented facts purposefully to "create a smoke-screen and hide its ill-gotten profits to support its false claim of loss from call connection charges".
Last week, Bharti Airtel had accused Jio of "misleading" the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the public over the interconnect usage charge (IUC) and claimed it suffered a loss of Rs6,800 crore in the last five years due to low mobile call connection charges fixed by the regulator.
The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom firm said that Airtel's representation on loss due to prevailing IUC rates is "grossly incorrect and fallacious".
Telecom operators levy IUC on incoming calls from other networks and the charges are passed on to subscribers. At present, IUC of 14 paise is levied on calls made from mobile phones. Incumbents have claimed that IUC should in the range of 30-35 paise while Jio and small operators have demanded to make it nil.
Countering Jio's allegations, an Airtel official said that Reliance Jio has added IUC on calls made within Airtel network in its estimation.