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T-Mobile is offering Voice over 5G service in parts of Portland, OR and Salt Lake City, UT. The carrier says that “many” more areas will get the service this year.

The service, which is technically called voice over new radio (VoNR), simplifies operations by eliminating the need for an underlying 4G LTE network and 4G packet core to support voice services. The newer approach is known as standalone 5G.

VoNR has the near-term benefit of slightly faster call set-up times. Standalone 5G networks have the additional benefit of making it easier to offer advanced services such as network slicing.

Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and Qualcomm Technologies worked with T-Mobile on the VoNR technology and service.

“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,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s President of Technology, in a press release.

In January 2021, T-Mobile entered into five-year multi-billion dollar deals with Ericsson and Nokia to expand and extend its 5G network. VoNR was said to be part of the roadmap in the initiative.

T-Mobile has deployed what it calls “Extended Range 5G” and what it calls “Ultra Capacity 5G.” Extended Range 5G relies on low-band spectrum for wide but comparatively slower coverage. This element of T-Mobile’s initiative has a footprint of 315 million people and 1.8 million square miles. Ultra Capacity 5G uses faster mid-band spectrum and covers 225 million people.

T-Mobile and Nokia previously had been working under a $3.5 billion deal under which the carrier had access to Nokia’s complete end-to-end technology, software and services portfolio. That agreement was announced in July 2018.

The 5G NR standard supports both standalone and non-standalone deployments. Including both in the standard allows for an efficient migration path. All U.S. carriers initially deployed the non-standalone option.

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