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eSIMs 101: Does VoLTE work on eSIMs?

And also, do they work on data-only eSIMs?

· 3 min read

Does Voice over LTE (VoLTE) work with electronic SIMs (eSIMs)? This question has become increasingly relevant in recent years, as both technologies have gained traction in the telecommunications industry. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the compatibility between VoLTE and eSIMs and explore the potential they hold for the future.

lady on a call

Understanding VoLTE: A Brief Introduction

You might have seen VoLTE or LTE as a setting that you can toggle on your device, but what exactly is it? VoLTE, also known as Voice over Long-Term Evolution, enables high-quality voice calls and supports data transmission over 4G LTE networks. In the most technical sense, LTE is the underlying technology behind 4G — so while 4G and LTE are not exactly the same thing, they are often referred to interchangeably, or jointly referred to as 4G LTE.

VoLTE's key features are its ability to provide crystal-clear voice quality, faster call setup times, and the ability to use voice and data simultaneously. Today, VoLTE has become the industry standard for voice calls, gradually making traditional circuit-switched voice calls obsolete.

The Evolution of VoLTE

VoLTE's journey began with the initial deployments on select networks worldwide. As more operators began enabling this technology, it gained widespread recognition and acceptance. The adoption of VoLTE paved the way for various enhancements and improvements, including better voice quality, reduced call drops, and enhanced coverage.

With the continuous evolution of mobile networks, VoLTE has also evolved. It has undergone improvements such as enhanced HD voice, video calling, and multi-device support. These advancements have made VoLTE an attractive option for both consumers and network operators.

One of the significant milestones in the evolution of VoLTE was the introduction of Voice over New Radio (VoNR) or Vo5G. VoNR is the next generation of VoLTE, designed to work over 5G networks. It brings even higher voice quality, lower latency, and improved network efficiency. VoNR is expected to revolutionize voice communication by providing an immersive and seamless experience.

The Rise of eSIM Technology

In parallel to the growth of VoLTE, we have witnessed the rise of eSIM technology. If you are reading this blog, chances are that you already know what an eSIM is. For the benefit of those who don't, an eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card built into a device. Unlike traditional physical SIM cards, eSIMs are programmable, allowing users to remotely activate their devices with mobile network operators of their choice. This eliminates the need for physical SIM swaps, making it easier for users to switch between different networks and plans.

eSIM technology has gained popularity in recent years due to its convenience and flexibility. It is being widely adopted in smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and other connected devices, enabling seamless connectivity and simplifying device management.

The Compatibility of VoLTE and eSIMs

With an understanding of both VoLTE and eSIM technology, let's now explore their compatibility and the technical aspects of their integration. If we were to compare eSIMs with physical SIMs, there is almost no difference between what an eSIM can offer in terms of connectivity. So if a physical SIM has the ability to support VoLTE, then we can expect that eSIMs as a technology are able to do the same.

That said, it doesn't necessarily mean that the moment you have an eSIM, you are immediately able to access VoLTE services. There are some factors to be considered, though none of them are necessarily related to the use of an eSIM.

Support from Network Operators

For VoLTE and eSIM integration to work effectively, network operators need to ensure that their systems support the provisioning of eSIM profiles that are VoLTE-compatible. This involves configuring the network infrastructure to handle the specific requirements of VoLTE calls, such as prioritizing voice traffic and ensuring low latency.

Device Compatibility

Of course, aside from the network, your device must also have the necessary hardware and software to support VoLTE functionality. This includes having a compatible modem and codecs to handle the voice data efficiently. But device support for VoLTE functionality shouldn't be an issue for most (if not all) of the eSIM-compatible device, so you needn't worry too much about it. In fact, it is more likely that your device is VoLTE compatible but not eSIM-compatible than it is the other way.

Plan Details

Finally, you will also need to check that the plan and subscription you have with your operator includes VoLTE services. Your network operator might have support for VoLTE, and your device might be compatible, but if your plan doesn't include this feature, then you wouldn't be able to use it.

Can I make calls on VoLTE on a Data-only eSIM?

Since VoLTE refers to Voice over LTE, you might be wondering if you can make calls on VoLTE if you had a data-only eSIM. The answer is generally that you cannot.

Typically, if you are planning to make calls, operators typically will require that you need a plan that includes talk time. On this note, if your plan includes talk time and VoLTE support, any calls you make via VoLTE will count towards your talk time minutes rather than use up additional data.

But even if you have a data-only eSIM, there are still ways that you can make phone calls — even if they might not necessarily be done via VoLTE. Read our previous blog post to find out more about how to make phone calls on a data-only eSIM.