Everything you need to know about VoLTE in Canada

Calling hasn't played the central role in the wireless industry for several years now, but that doesn't mean improvements can't be made.

VoLTE, or voice-over-LTE, brings calling onto 4G networks and offers significant improvements over the previous generation of calling and while it's largely rolled out (or rolling out) through all the major carriers in Canada, the concept is still somewhat mysterious to many. So just what exactly is it and how can you take advantage of the service in Canada?

MobileSyrup is here to provide an explanation.

What is VoLTE?

VoLTE, as its name suggests, allows for voice calls to be made over a carrier’s 4G LTE network rather than its 3G HSPA network.

Without VoLTE, when you make a call you're being transferred over to a 3G network, and are relegated to only using 3G data speeds while on a call. With VoLTE, everything goes through the same channel.

Eventually, when every 3G network gets decommissioned, all calling will be VoLTE. In fact, the wireless industry is already at work on the next generation of voice calling, known for now as Vo5GNR, or voice-over-5G-New-Radio.

The benefits of VoLTE include being able to use LTE data and voice call simultaneously, increased availability of HD voice service and faster call set-ups.

It's important to note that having VoLTE doesn't mean you can no longer make calls when you're on an HSPA network -- that still works (and likely will for as long as 3G networks are in place). VoLTE is just an added bonus.

This means there shouldn't be any hold-ups when calling 911. When in a VoLTE area, the emergency call will go through over LTE. Elsewhere, it will go through over HSPA.

As for setup, at most carriers, the process is seamless. Users will have VoLTE enabled by default as long as they are using an LTE SIM and VoLTE-compatible device (more on those below) running up-to-date software.

What if I want to disable VoLTE?

If you'd rather disable VoLTE -- perhaps if you're experiencing some sort of issue related to the service -- the option to turn off VoLTE is generally under 'Mobile Network Settings' within a device's settings, or can be accessed through the settings menu in the dialer app.

Are HD voice and VoLTE one in the same?

No. HD voice is a higher audio codec that provides clearer calls. It's an almost ubiquitous part of VoLTE, not a synonym for VoLTE.

What Canadian carriers offer VoLTE?

Rogers

Like Bell, Rogers supports both voice-over-LTE and video-over-LTE calling for Android, but no data allotment is required to make video calls, and they are billed in minutes only.

Share Everything plan members get unlimited VoLTE video calling, and those not on a Share Everything plan get unlimited local video calls -- though Canadian long distance VoLTE calls are billed at a steep $0.35 per minute.

Voice-over-LTE calls, meanwhile, use the minutes allotted in a user's plan.

As for coverage, the carrier's VoLTE network is available everywhere its standard LTE network is in place, with the current exception of Northwestern Ontario. Additionally, while customers can get LTE in extended coverage areas -- areas where Rogers lacks infrastructure and has made agreements to let customers roam on another carrier's network -- they cannot use VoLTE, at least for now.

For more information, check here.

Fido

Rogers' sub-brand also offers voice and video-over-LTE service. The details of the service are the same as for its parent company.

For more information, check here.

Chatr

Chatr does not offer VoLTE service yet.

Telus

VoLTE is available nationally on the Telus network except for the province of Saskatchewan and some parts of Manitoba. The carrier says its working on adding these locations.

VoLTE is not available when customers leave Telus's network. As with most carriers, Telus counts VoLTE calls in minutes, not against your data allotment. This means there's no chance of data overage fees.

Currently, Telus's VoLTE does not support video calling.

For more information, check here.

Koodo

Telus's sub-brand Koodo doesn't have VoLTE yet. The last update was from a Koodo community rep, who said that while both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling were in testing, there was no firm date for launch.

Public Mobile

Public Mobile doesn't have VoLTE service yet.

 

Bell

Bell supports voice-over-LTE for iPhone and Android users, as well as video-over-LTE calling for Android, allowing users to switch between voice and video during calls.

It should be noted, though, that while voice-over-LTE calls use minutes, video-over-LTE uses both minutes and data, detracted from your monthly allotment. For reference, the carrier says that a video call uses approximately 6MB of data per minute.

Additionally, if you leave the VoLTE coverage area while on a video call, it will transition back to a voice call. To switch back when back in coverage, you'll need to restart the call. And in case you're wondering if you can make these video calls on Wi-Fi -- you can't. Video-over-LTE only works with a mobile connection.

Coverage is available in certain areas of Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon -- check out the carrier's dedicated VoLTE coverage map here. The company says it will continue expanding its service to new areas in the "near future."

For more information, check here.

Virgin Mobile

Bell's budget carrier also offers voice and video-over-LTE. Details of the service are the same as for its parent company.

For more information, check here.

Freedom Mobile

Freedom has yet to roll out VoLTE service, though Wi-Fi calling is available.

Vidéotron

Voice and video-over-LTE is currently available across Vidéotron's LTE network, detailed in the coverage map here.

It should be noted that VoLTE is still new for the carrier, and as of launch, it only supports the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus -- though they can be purchased through the carrier or BYOD. Vidéotron specifies this won't be the case for BYOD Androids, though.

The voice-over-LTE service uses up minutes, while the video-over-LTE feature uses mobile data deducted from your monthly data bucket.

For more information, check here.

BellMTS

Bell's recently acquired Manitoba offshoot does not have VoLTE yet, but the carrier confirmed to MobileSyrup that it will get the service in early December 2017.

SaskTel

SaskTel plans to bring VoLTE to customers "before the end of 2017."

 

Ice Wireless

That's right -- VoLTE exists in Canada's arctic regions. Well, at least of the virtual VoLTE variety.

The deployment is available to a population of about 110,000 in the carrier's coverage areas within the Yukon, North West Territories, Nunavut and Northern Quebec.

For more information, check here.

What phones can I use for VoLTE?

The answer to this question is tied closely to which carrier you use. Below are the supported devices listed by various Canadian carriers. Those not listed don't have updated compatibility lists. MobileSyrup has reached out to confirm compatible devices with those carriers and will update this post if and when we receive a response.

Telus

The carrier lists the following devices as VoLTE-compatible:

  • Samsung Galaxy S6, GS7 and all newer models
  • Samsung Note 8 and newer
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 2017
  • Alcatel GoFlip
  • LG G4 and all newer models
  • LG X Power, X Power 2, LG Stylo 3, LG X Cover, Q6, V30
  • Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
  • iPhone 6 and all newer models (including SE) with iOS 10 and above

Telus notes that most newer devices will be VoLTE-enabled as they become available, and warns that devices not purchased through its channels will not be VoLTE enabled "at this time."

Bell

The carrier lists the following devices as VoLTE-compatible:

  • Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, S7 edge, S8, S8+, A5 (2017), XCover 4
  • LG Stylo 3 Plus, X Power 2, G5, G6
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
  • iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and SE with iOS 10

Bell notes that iPhone devices only support voice-over-LTE.

Virgin Mobile

The carrier lists the following devices as VoLTE-compatible:

  • Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, S7 Edge, S8 and A5 (2017)
  • LG G5, G6, Stylo 3 Plus, X Power 2
  • iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and SE with iOS 10

Virgin notes that iPhone devices only support voice-over-LTE.

Rogers

As with the other carriers, most new devices are VoLTE compatible. Rather than provide a list, the carrier directs users to check VoLTE support on a per-device basis by dropping down the technical specifications listing when looking up a smartphone on its website. 

Vidéotron

Currently, the carrier only supports the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (new or BYOD).

Eastlink

The carrier lists the following devices as VoLTE-compatible:

  • iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, A5, XCover 4

What about Wi-Fi calling?

Wi-Fi calling is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- calls that are connected over wireless internet, rather than conventional cell towers.

Many Canadian carriers support Wi-Fi calling, including each of the Big Three: Bell, Telus and Rogers.

Comments

  • Mario Gaucher

    On Vidéotron, I can say it works fine on iPhone 7… but also on iPhone 8 and X as long as you have a compatible SIM card and VoLTE is enabled in your account.

    I have an iPhone X… and VoLTE is working fine

  • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

    I wonder if non-carrier phones will *ever* be supported. VoLTE isn’t exactly new, phones from years ago also had the support.

    • Anaron

      Shouldn’t non-carrier iPhones work?

    • Mario Gaucher

      yes they do. I had an iPhone 7 a few days ago working perfectly on VoLTE with Vidéotron.

      Software and hardware is exactly the same on non-carrier iPhones… so there’s absolutely no reason to not support them. For Android, this is a different story. Hardware is mostly the same from one carrier to an other… but software is often different or tweaked for specific carriers.

    • John Lofwire

      Beleive me.. i work in the industry and its has nothing to do with software as you can trick the network to make it work ( as one user explained take a supported phone from rogers that has VoLTE enabled put its sim card in an unlocked phone with VoLTE support and for about 10-15 min you will have VoLTE activated and working but when network detect your imei its will stop giving you the service )

      So basically they block it on purpose.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      VoLTE is an standard just like regular phone calls as defined by GSMA. If they need to “tweak” a standard to get it working there’s something wrong.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      Point being it shouldn’t be the case. Any phone supporting VoLTE should be allowed, but it’s an artificial block by the carriers. VoLTE is a GSMA standard.

    • Anaron

      I agree with you. I only responded because you made it seem like all non-carrier phones aren’t supported. It seems as though iPhones are the only exception and I think that’s ridiculous.

    • Bill___A

      Unlocked iPhones from Apple work on Telus and Rogers for VoLTE (I have done it). Imagine it works for other ones too.

    • Anaron

      I figured that was the case. Thanks for confirming it.

  • Justin

    So the S6 yes, Note 5 which came out after this is no supported?

    • Billy Joseph

      Not sure 100% but if memory serves I remember selling my unlocked 32gb note 5 to get the 64gb variant from Rogers just so I could use VoLTE.

  • SF1234

    What is Video over LTE?

    • John Lofwire

      Facetime 😉

  • Kenjuta

    one thing to note about VoLTE on Rogers/Fido if you’re using an android phone
    unless your phone is bought from Rogers/Fido, even though your phone supports VoLTE from them and has the same software update, their system won’t allow you on their VoLTE network

    this has been confirmed on Fido’s forum

    • Canadiana Jones

      Yup, that is important piece of information the article doesn’t mention. You have to buy a phone from Rogers to get VoLTE as provider-specific VoLTE functionality is baked into Android’s core. No luck for OnePlus users.

    • Kenjuta

      not exactly true.
      someone did this:
      Put their SIM card in an iphone or another phone that works with VoLTE on their network
      Switch to a phone not from them but has VoLTE on their network like Samsung S8 or Google Pixel
      you will have VoLTE for like 15 minute before the network realizes your IMEI isn’t a device sold by them and kick you off VoLTE

    • Canadiana Jones

      Riiight. And this is related to real life how?

    • naviz

      I did this on my S7. It proves Rogers blocks devices not sold by them, very sneaky and possibly illegal with the new wireless code coming into law.

    • John Lofwire

      That quite sad Bell and Telus support almost any VoLTE compatible device.

  • Our Samsung GS8+ and GS7E deliver impeccable HD voice quality when connected to compatible phones on their network. Apart from seeing an HD simble, the person sounds like they’re with you!

  • Serge Cote

    Bell support old Galaxy S and don’t support new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Telus, the company that share the LTE network with Bell, support these new devices.

    • John Lofwire

      Telus support mostly all VoLTE device i must give them that.

  • will

    Funny how they tie VoLTE to the android phones they sell….why not accept all Androids that support VoLTE like they do for unlicked iPhones?

    • Billy Joseph

      I know that’s how Rogers do it but I have an unlocked Pixel 2 purchased directly from Google and VoLTE works on it with Telus.

    • Eugenio Oliveira

      Did you call them to activate it? I have a Pixel XL (unlocked from Rogers) and VoLTE does not work on Telus network.

  • John Lofwire

    LTE currently mostly use 1700 and over MGZ as signal.
    As long as we wont have 700 mgz LTE everywhere VOLTE will make you have much more drop call when you move around ( if you loose LTE when in a call its wont fallback to 3g its will cut the call end of the story ) Also LTE currently have a bad penetration of building wall.

    I would highly recommend to not use it.

    • Mario Gaucher

      you are right regarding 700MHz being not available…

      but for the rest, I’m not sure where you got your info. VoLTE calls will fallback to 3G if LTE is lost.

      I mostly get the same LTE coverage compared to 3G. Also LTE is more efficient with a lower signal.

      Where I am right now, with 3G, I would often get my calls cut because signal was too low. With LTE, with the same signal, I never got cut calls so far.

    • John Lofwire

      Hello,

      When the LTE network is lost the call will be lost ( you got lucky ) its the same limitation that stop you from using LTE data when on a call started on 3G both tech cannot work together so when you switch its kill one to use the others.

      I work in the industry 😉

      This issues to affect more ppl on the road ( who tend to go from LTE tower to non LTE tower in same call.

      Its also depend what 3G tech you refere to ( GSM or HSPA ) and even the type of HSPA ( single cell or dual cell ) ect many thing can affect call quality and more than often VoLTE gave a bad experience most of the time for my clients.

      If its good for you then great news 🙂

    • Mario Gaucher

      what does that mean “I work in the industry” for you? I’m curious.

      that said, fallback from VoLTE to regular 3G/UMTS does exist… this is provided by SRVCC. I would say that nearly all carriers that have a LTE network and 3G/UMTS will have this fallback unless they are using old equipment not updated for the current standards.

      My wife was on Fido 1 year ago with VoLTE… it always worked fine. To my best of knowledge, it always went to 3G when LTE was lost (in the basement of my house).

      I’ve experienced the fallback last weekend on my iPhone on Vidéotron… I went into a tunnel… lost LTE… calls switched to 3G and stayed there until I finished the call.

    • Bill___A

      I have to agree, the VoLTE calls do in fact fall back to 3G rather than drop off. I don’t work in the industry but I have been using mobile phones for about 38 years. (Not cellular all the time but mobile phones nonetheless).
      Wi-Fi calling calls will cut over to VoLTE but not to 3G (they will drop if it is 3G)
      VoLTE calls will drop to 3G…

    • sheytoon

      SRVCC does indeed work to transfer an existing VoLTE call to 3G circuit switched.

      CSFB is an entirely different mechanism not related to VoLTE or SRVCC.

      John Lofwire, you’re obviously not a network engineer.

    • Billy Joseph

      I have no idea what he’s talking about either. I had VoLTE with Rogers and now with Telus. Haven’t had a dropped call since the iPhone 6s and that was due to the phone not the network. Otherwise I haven’t had a dropped call since 2014 at least.

  • Our Samsung GS8+ and GS7E deliver impeccable HD voice quality when connected to compatible phones on TELUS. Apart from seeing an HD simble, the person sounds like they’re with you!

  • Jeffrey Beatty

    Since Day One, LTE came out beautiful that we can use our video calling both video and voice calls. All of sudden, Au👂ism want to have voice calls only. They forced wireless telcos to come up with VoLTE. That cause interoperability issues on many levels. Who causes this in the first place? #HearingPrivilege👂

  • cayaguy

    I’ve had Volte on Telus for almost a year now. It’s been 100% rock solid I’ve never had any issues iPhone 6s Plus. In areas with low signal penetration my phone rarely drops to 3G as Telus 850 (band 5)and 700( band 12,13,17)LTE are very strong so going to 3G really has no benefit since Telus 3G also uses 850 (band 5) I haven’t seen 3G on my phone in almost a year 🤣

  • Billy Joseph

    I also have VoLTE with Telus. It just rolled out to Montreal a couple of months ago. Cool thing about Telus’ VoLTE as opposed to Rogers’ is that you can used VoLTE capable unlocked devices where Rogers will only enable VoLTE on devices purchased from them exclusively.

  • Samuel Gomez Recuero

    Any way to know when will videotron extends the service to Android?

  • xeronine992

    This makes no sense in one regard.. For the list of carries that support VoLTE it specifically has Koodo, but when you scroll down it says Koodo doesn’t support VoLTE yet.. Which one is it Rose? Make up your mind!

  • basesloadedwalk

    Yeah, I see it does say that non-Telus purchased devices won’t work, but my Note 8 which I purchased from the Samsung Store is working with VoLTE on Telus. They probably just say non-Telus devices won’t work to cover themselves.