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Thread: Can I still make VoLTE calls if I select 4G in LTE settings?

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    Can I still make VoLTE calls if I select 4G in LTE settings?

    With my phone (iphone Xr) I can select LTE for phone and data, data only or I can switch it off and just have 4G.

    4G always shows better signal strength (big difference in many instances) so my thinking is to keep LTE off.

    Is AT&T 4G really 3G? And am I correct in assuming that VoLTE will not work if I choose this 4G in the phone's settings?

    Also, am I correct in assuming that VoLTE will not work when using WiFi calling?
    Last edited by californiajay; 07-12-2019 at 12:07 AM.

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    Turning on wifi calling requires that VoLTE is turned on first.

    In other words, it's all voice over IP. There is no traditional cellular talking over wifi. It's voice over IP.

    If you turn off data, you can't have VoLTE (VoIP).

    Pay no attention to the "G" indicator in an AT&T phone. It's nothing but marketing. Same with the signal strength bars--they're meaningless. If you want to know what's going on, bands and signal strength, find an app that tells you the details. On Android, there are quite a few; I have to imagine iPhone has at least one or two.

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    Remember that VOLTE = Voice over LTE which uses 4G technology. LTE also utilizes 4G. By itself LTE is data only, but VOLTE includes both voice and data.

    3G means you are using GSM networks that At&t currently supports and has not announced any shutdown of that network. 3G is the older cellular network which doesn't have the same voice quality as 4G and a slower data connection. Similar technology, but not the same.

    The "G" symbol indicates that your phone is operating on the 3G (GSM) network. It will allow simultaneous voice and data on 3G or 4G.
    Don't make me turn this car around.....

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    So I really have to say that nowhere in my 66 years on this planet have I come across a topic so full of contradictory and inaccurate information as I have in researching cell phones and their technology. It has been so frustrating. Most if not all the company reps that I have asked questions of are totally clueless and just answer with whatever sounds right to them, most forums that I go into on the internet are full of pretty much the same as well. Howard forums is about the only one where I feel I can get some kind of knowledgable people to answer my questions.

    That said;
    Adam, I am using an iphone and there is no app that indicates signal strength. There IS a way to see the strength if you know how to do it. When I am on LTE, depending on where I am, my signal may be as good as about -80db or as bad as -115db with 1 to 0 bars showing. If I switch to 4G only (which at this point I assume really means 3G) the bars go all the way up to full. I have not yet tested the db level when this happens as I have seen this while driving and cannot really check the db level unless I pull over and do so (which I may do at some point). Thing is, I wonder whether I will even receive any calls if the bars are down to 1 or zero.

    I did try something this morning. In an area where I saw 2 bars on LTE, I made a call to my voicemail and saw that the bars jumped up to full during the call. So I ask...when not on a call, are the bars on the phone monitoring the LTE signal from the tower, but when I am actually on a call, is the phone jumping over to 3G instead? If so, doesn't that drop any chance of my being on a VoLTE call? Or does the switch happen just when my LTE signal isn't strong enough...and since it did so when I had 2 bars showing this morning, isn't that a bit too aggressive in the switch to 3G?

    If so, a lot of questions come to mind, such as is this all happening because AT&T just has not converted all its towers to LTE yet? When and if they ever do, will the LTE signal strength indicated on my phone then be better (due to more and perhaps closer towers to me)? Is all of this not something to worry about due to the fact that the phone will always just pick the stronger of the 2 (LTE or 3G) to use once a call is initiated?

    veriztd, when you say "it will allow simultaneous voice and data on 3G or 4G" doesn't that imply that 3G and 4G are NOT one and the same? I read in another forum someplace that AT&T calls their older 3G "4G" and this is actually what I switch to when I turn off LTE in the iphone. Do you know anything about this?

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    3G=3rd Generation (GSM network), 4G=4th Generation (LTE/VOLTE network)

    They are similar but they are not the same. 3G came out before 4G. No need to turn off LTE on your phone unless you are not getting a good voice/data connection and that the 3G network works better.

    I do realize it can be confusing at times. That is why forums like this exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veriztd View Post
    3G=3rd Generation (GSM network), 4G=4th Generation (LTE/VOLTE network)

    They are similar but they are not the same. 3G came out before 4G. No need to turn off LTE on your phone unless you are not getting a good voice/data connection and that the 3G network works better.

    I do realize it can be confusing at times. That is why forums like this exist.
    I was just going to post the same when I saw your post. To add to that:

    First, I'm confused with what the OP says his phone has. He can select LTE for phone and data, data only or you can switch it off and just have 4G. Data is 4G. But it is an iPhone so who knows.

    1. It sounds like the OP is relying on his phones bars and the phones built in signal strength info to make conclusions. Bars are way not a good indicator and the built it strength stats aren't either. As was mentioned you need an app like Network Cell Info Lite if they make it for iPhones. It's free. Has any actual function testing been done with what is thought to be 3G but is 4G/LTE ? Not just based on bars and built in stats.

    2. As mentioned, 3G is totally irrelevant in this discussion. I know people use it to refer to even voice on older phones but voice is some other standard: which for GSM I don't recall. If you have a VoLTE capable phone it's 4G. It would be backward compatible to pick up a 3G data signal but turning data off would give you no data whether 3G or 4.

    3. Cell phones bounce around, not only to different towers, but to different bands even when it's turned on but you're not using it. I can walk around my property and have my phone jump between 2 different bands during an active call.
    If there's no LTE signal the phone will drop to whatever the regular non-VoLTE GSM voice standard is called. (assuming your phone supports the standard or band)
    And yes when you connect with someone it could lock onto a band and you're signal will improve.

    4. I'm not with ATT but with Verizon, and my experience with them is with all the change overs going on between older technologies and now VoLTE and 5G, there are areas with great 4G/LTE and VoLTE and absolutely terrible old standard voice or 3G. And other areas with great old standard voice and terrible VoLTE. Likely the same with ATT.

    My comments are simply based on my experience and readings. No way saying it applies in all cases.
    I think whatever setting on an iPhone or ATT it is to have 4G/LTE, will get the OP whatever the best signal available is in his area for voice or data.

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    Yes the iphone has the option in LTE settings to;
    A - 4G
    B - Voice and Data
    C - Data only

    I have read in other forums that as far as AT&T is concerned, when they say "4G' it's really 3G and not 4G (marketing purposes).

    If I set it to A (4G) I can get full bars when I get 1 or none when set to B or C.
    Also, this morning I was looking at the phone and saw 2 bars (phone was set to LTE voice and data setting). I made a call to my voicemail and immediately saw the bars jump to 4. My thinking is that on the actual call, the phone switched to that 4G (AT&T's 3G) setting. I did not happen to look up at the status on the phone to verify this (probably should have), but as soon as the call ended, it all went back down to 2 bars.

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    Remember that LTE/VOLTE is truly 4G technology and has never been considered 3G technology which utilizes GSM technology.

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    Yes I know that but as I have said more than once already, I have read in other forums that AT&T labels the setting as 4G even though it is really 3G. The reasoning was that it is for marketing purposes.

    From one forum:

    >>>Unlike T-Mobile, who only have HSPA+, or Verizon, who only are going to call LTE "4G", AT&T is going to call two different technologies "4G". I could see that getting very confusing, explaining to people that they can't get this type of 4G here, but this phone supports that type of 4G.<<<

    Another example and explanation;

    https://slate.com/technology/2012/03...s-in-tech.html

    I know that was an old link and this is why I am asking about this here today. It appears that they are still labeling 4G in that LTE setting on the iphone to something that really is 3G. If not, why have an option for it (4G), another for LTE data and voice, and a third option for LTE data only? Isn't that redundant? There is absolutely no other option anywhere to go to "3G"

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    LTE/VOLTE is 4G and has always been referred to as 4G.

    At&t did upgrade it's 3G GSM data services to HSPA and HSDPA (H+) around 2008 or 2009 prior to the roll out of LTE/VOLTE but those were never truly 4G and outside of At&t they were commonly referred to as 3.5G.

    I think that At&t used to display 4G on the device incorrectly while connected to HSPA and HSDPA data networks and should have never done so IMHO.

    I can't provide you a logical answer to your last question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veriztd View Post
    LTE/VOLTE is 4G and has always been referred to as 4G.

    At&t did upgrade it's 3G GSM data services to HSPA and HSDPA (H+) around 2008 or 2009 prior to the roll out of LTE/VOLTE but those were never truly 4G and outside of At&t they were commonly referred to as 3.5G.

    I think that At&t used to display 4G on the device incorrectly while connected to HSPA and HSDPA data networks and should have never done so IMHO.

    I can't provide you a logical answer to your last question.
    Yes well I suspect they are still labeling 3G is 4G. Again, why have a menu option for;
    4G
    Data & Voice
    Data Only

    Isn't the 4G option (IF were truly 4G) the same as the Data & Voice option? Plus keep in mind that at times I can see zero, 1 or 2 bars when on Data & Voice, and as soon as I switch it to 4G, I can then see full 4 bars.

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    Wow, you know what? I'm a dummy and I apologize. I just looked at the menu once again and saw that there is NOT a 4G option there. It's actually labeled "OFF." Why I thought it said 4G is beyond me!!! I am so sorry.

    So obviously choosing that setting is indeed turning LTE off.

    Again, my apologies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veriztd View Post
    3G=3rd Generation (GSM network), 4G=4th Generation (LTE/VOLTE network)
    NO. That's just wrong. GSM is 2G. The following are technologies that AT&T has used recently. I won't go back to TDMA and AMPS, since phones haven't supported those in over a decade. Max speeds are theoretical and listed for how they were deployed by AT&T in the US, and are sometimes lower than other carriers or countries used.

    GSM - 2G voice/text only
    GPRS- 2G data only, deployed with GSM, 114kbps max
    EDGE- 2.75G data only, deployed with GSM/GPRS 236kbps max

    Note that all of these were shut down on 1/1/2017 on AT&T's native network. I experienced roamer networks using them as of last summer, and may still be using them in spots. Data generally doesn't work on 2G anymore, as smartphones tend to overload the towers to the point where it's useless, but in theory they could work.

    UMTS with HSDPA- 3G voice/data 7.2mbps
    HSPA/HSPA+- newer version of UMTS offering 3.75G data speeds- 21mbps

    Note that HSPA+ is a 3.75G technology, but this is what "4G" is on AT&T. It is often called "Faux G" since it is not really 4G, but AT&T called it that after T-Mobile did the same. At one point back in the early 2010's, 4G meant that it had enhanced backhaul (usually fiber as opposed to T1 connections), but that differentiation has since disappeared, and the handful of extremely rural 3G sites still running on T1s are labelled as 4G.

    4G LTE- LTE data only 300mbps+ depending on spectrum and carrier aggregation

    5G- AT&T's fake 5G is 4G LTE with some inconsistently defined combination of MIMO, Carrier Aggregation, and other LTE Advanced features.

    AT&T also has real 5G in a couple of places in a couple of markets, and I don't know what that icon is.

    VoLTE- voice technology that uses VoIP to run voice over LTE (hence the name). It is a part of IMS, which allows VoIP calls to be routed over WiFi, VoLTE, or in the iOS beta, another carrier's data connection in a dual-SIM phone.

    Quote Originally Posted by californiajay View Post
    >>>Unlike T-Mobile, who only have HSPA+, or Verizon, who only are going to call LTE "4G", AT&T is going to call two different technologies "4G". I could see that getting very confusing, explaining to people that they can't get this type of 4G here, but this phone supports that type of 4G.<<<
    4G is Faux G, which is 3.75G. 4G LTE is 4G LTE.

    I know that was an old link and this is why I am asking about this here today. It appears that they are still labeling 4G in that LTE setting on the iphone to something that really is 3G. If not, why have an option for it (4G), another for LTE data and voice, and a third option for LTE data only? Isn't that redundant? There is absolutely no other option anywhere to go to "3G"
    4G is just souped up 3G that AT&T calls 4G. LTE data only would drop you back to 4G for voice, which phones that don't have VoLTE, or that AT&T won't allow on VoLTE do anyway. By the end of the year, unlocked Android phones will have VoLTE support, and AT&T will on the track towards getting rid of 3G/4G/HSPA+ whatever you want to call it.

    You really don't need to obsess over it unless your LTE isn't working well. In most areas, AT&T has probably stopped running B2 HSPA+ at all, meaning that HSPA+ is running on B5 at 850mhz, and thus is going to have a relatively strong signal strength. It also calculates bars differently. LTE may be running on B4, B66, or B30, all of which are even weaker than B2 and B5. It's roughly inverse to frequency, since higher frequencies don't travel as well, but that isn't always the case, since for whatever reason, B2 at 1900mhz is much stronger than B4 at 1700/2100mhz even though they are of similar frequencies. I haven't dug into the details, but there must be differences in allowed power output or something.

    All that being said, if you're using B30 at 2300mhz, you could have a rock solid LTE connection with 30mbps of bandwidth, but it would only show a bar or two. At the same spot, forcing 4G HSPA+ could land you on B5 with 4 or 5 bars, but you would have lower voice quality than VoLTE, and might have less than 1mbps of data speed.

    Let the phone and network do it's thing unless your connection doesn't work at all. Bars are a lousy proxy of anything except raw RF signal strength, and while they are useful to see if you have coverage, or if you might leave a coverage area soon, comparing the number of bars is pretty useless for gauging your quality of service. AT&T has a wide range of spectrum, and has gotten more aggressive over time at moving phones onto higher bands, displaying fewer bars, but often gaining bandwidth as the lower bands are more clogged up with phones at the edges of the cell or inside buildings.

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    SOXFAN76,

    LTE/VOLTE=4G, GSM=3G, TDMA=2G, Analog=pre 2G.

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    Soxfan76

    Very good and informative info. Thank you!

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