T-Mobile now offers voice calls over 5G in the US

T-Mobile 5G
(Image credit: T-Mobile)

T-Mobile has launched Voice over 5G (VoNR) in the US, allowing customers to make and receive voice calls over a 5G connection.

The service is only available in two cities – Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah – but wider deployment of the technology will enhance the effectiveness of next-generation networks and reduce reliance on 4G.

If voice traffic can be carried on a standalone 5G (5G SA) network rather than on LTE, then devices don’t need to switch network technologies during calls, meaning applications can benefit from 5G without interruption.

5G FWA broadband

VoNR fulfils the full potential of 5G SA because there is no need for operators to maintain a parallel LTE radio network. Although 4G and 5G are expected to co-exist for some time to come, operators will be able to free up network resources and spectrum for next generation technologies.

The same logic was applied when operators rolled out Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology a decade ago. VoLTE added the ability to carry voice traffic on 4G, improving quality and reducing reliance on 3G.

With VoNR, T-Mobile says customers won’t notice anything different other than that calls might connect quicker than on 4G.

“T-Mobile is setting the pace for providers around the globe as we push the industry forward - now starting to roll out another critical service over 5G,” declared Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile.

“5G is already driving new levels of engagement, transforming how our customers use their smartphones and bringing unprecedented connectivity to areas that desperately need it. And it's just going to get better thanks to the incredible T-Mobile team and our partners who are tirelessly innovating and advancing the capabilities of 5G every day.”

Most early 5G networks relied on non-standalone 5G (5G NSA), which uses new radio technologies but still relies on the underlying 4G core.

5G SA is powered a new virtual, cloud-based core that allows data to be processed closer to the point of collection and enables features like network slicing. This allows for guaranteed speeds, enhanced reliability and ultra-low latency – qualities that will be critical in delivering the most revolutionary of 5G applications.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.