MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
Since the famed telecommunications revolution in Nigeria in 2001, the telecommunications sector has remained pivotal to national economic growth and development.
It has also remained outstanding by the innovative products and services which its leading lights like Airtel, MTN, Glo, 9mobile, nTel, Swift Networks and Smile have made second nature. One of the most cherished innovations from telcos is the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) introduced in Nigeria by Smile Communications in 2016 and enlivened six years later by the recent launch of the service by MTN in April 2022.
In gifting Nigeria its first VoLTE service via a test run in 2015 and full service commercialization early in 2016, Smile ensured that Nigerian subscribers were availed up to three times more voice and data capacity than the existing older 3G UMTS and up to six times more than 2G GSM. Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a LTE high-speed wireless communication standard for mobile phones and data terminals, including Internet of things (IoT) devices and wearables. VoLTE calls are voice calls made over the 4G LTE network.
Apparently, with its eyes partly on VoLTE offering, Smile launched West Africa‘s first 4G LTE network in Nigeria in 2014. The historic launch evidently revolutionized the way people access the internet in Nigeria. VoLTE provides superior audio quality to regular phone calls made over the standard voice network and enables the consumer to talk and use 4G LTE data simultaneously. It is also enabled for up to six-way conference calls.
At its introduction in Nigeria in 2016, Smile pledged to, through the Voice over LTE (VoLTE), give Nigerians the best of speed in voice and data connectivity. The company noted the rapidly growing Nigerian market that is moving much faster in the broadband direction and pledged to offer voice quality that will definitely beat the existing benchmark in the Nigerian market.
Six years after, Smile has not fallen short of its promise as Nigerians now experience SuperClear voice calls on its 4G LTE network. Designed to delight its subscribers to no end, the Smile Voice is cheaper than normal voice calls.
To enhance an inclusion that extends numerous benefits at a nominal fee Smile customers can use one Smile Data Bundle for SuperClear, Reliable voice, video calls and SMSs to call any one on any network, anytime, anywhere, using the SmileVoice App or putting a Smile SIM into a compatible VoLTE phone. The uniqueness of Smile Voice also allows customers to make calls from their data bundle, which can be shared both for calls and data browsing.
Assured of extensive usage and unrestricted range, Smile customers do not need to worry about roaming abroad, for even when travelling internationally the customer can still enjoy local call rate when he calls home. All that is needed is to connect the mobile to a local WiFi or data network service and call home at local per second call rate. In essence, Smile Voice can be used in any country using the data in one’s Smile account.
Similarly, the MTN VoLTE service is said to enable a subscriber to make very clear voice calls with reduced background noise on the 4G LTE network. The MTN VoLTE call service will be charged at regular call rates. It will be available to all customers with VoLTE-enabled devices such as Tecno Phantom X, Infinix Zero X and Infinix Zero X Pro smartphones. Other device models from Samsung, Nokia, Apple and Tecno will be supported soon. The company is hopeful that with VoLTE, it will continue to enhance Nigerian lives with innovative technology.
The Smile earlier offering and the recently launched MTN offer speak to an innovative streak that is gradually becoming synonymous with the telecoms sector. Invariably, the stellar performance of the telecoms sector stems from a viable market provided by Nigeria and Nigerians, effective regulation provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and impressive service provided by the major operators skippered by Smile and MTN.