Robi yesterday introduced voice over long term evolution (VoLTE) technology to provide the 4G users of the telecom operator with enhanced audio, better data usage and improved service.
"VoLTE is a real game changer," said Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, CEO and managing director of Robi.
Not only does the VoLTE provide high-quality voice services, it also significantly enhances an operator's ability to carry voice calls over their network, he said.
VoLTE has up to three times more voice and data capacity than older 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), he said.
"The most exciting part is that our customers won't have to pay any extra charges to avail this new innovative experience."
After completing trial runs, Robi launched the service at a programme at the InterContinental Dhaka.
Robi users in Dhaka and Chattogram will be the first to enjoy the service as about 5,000 cellular towers equipped with VoLTE technology have been activated across the two divisions.
Gradually though, the service will be made available throughout the country, said Robi officials.
VoLTE is an inter-protocol based voice call technology which is specifically designed to ensure high-quality phone calls.
VoLTE treats a person's voice as though it were an application, which use the operator's LTE data network to transmit data.
By doing so, calls can be set up within just 3 to 4 seconds, which is 40 or 50 per cent faster than how voice calls are traditionally handled, Robi said.
Customers could also get a 40 per cent increase in battery life if using VoLTE services instead of application-based communication services like Whatsapp, Viber or IMO, according to the GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.
However, in order to enjoy an end-to-end service experience, the person making a call and the person receiving it both need to have VoLTE supported handsets equipped with VoLTE activated 4G SIM cards.
Besides, both individuals will have to be present inside an area with VoLTE coverage at the time of the call.
Ever since telecom industry took off in Bangladesh about two decades ago, voice services have been handled in a traditional way, using 2G and 3G technologies.
3G was always going to be an intermediary technology and was never intended as a long term solution to ensure better voice call quality.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan announced the launch of VoLTE services while Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar and Chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Md Jahurul Haque were also present.
Interested Robi users can enjoy the VoLTE service by dialling *86583#. Officials will then reach out to the interested customers to help guide them through the application process if eligible.
Users can also call Robi's customer care number `121' to learn more about the process.
In January 2019, Robi, the country's second largest mobile network operator, conducted the first-ever non-commercial trial of VoLTE technology in the country.
SingTel, which runs the largest mobile network operation in Singapore, became the first company to commercially introduce the technology back in May 2014.
Bharti Airtel, a mobile network operator based in India, then adopted the technology in 2017. After that, Indian mobile network operators began shutting down their 3G networks as VoLTE became more widespread.
While only Reliance Jio operates a pure 4G-VoLTE network, Airtel has declared plans to boost their 4G networks by March this year.
If all customers use the VoLTE service, it will help to gradually close all 3G networks within three to four years, which in turn will reduce service costs and subsequently service prices, said the Robi executives.