With the shutdown of the 3G network looming large, there may be some who are blissfully unaware that their 4G phones may not be able to make 000 calls.

Generally, for mobile phones to be able to ring 000 they need to be VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) capable.

Here’s some basic information from Telstra who is switching off 3G on 31st August :

If your device doesn’t support VoLTE emergency calling, you will not be able to make an emergency call to 000 on the Telstra Mobile Network.

If you have a device that can only use 3G, you won’t be able to connect to Telstra’s network after 31 August 2024.
If your mobile device doesn’t have Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, even if it uses 4G data, it will not be able to make voice calls on our network after 31 August 2024.
Not all VoLTE enabled devices support emergency VoLTE calling, meaning they will not be able to make an emergency call to 000 once 3G closes.
If we contacted you about this, your device is affected. Without taking the recommended action you won’t be able to connect to a network after 31 August 2024.

This is taken from EFTM, an Australian Tech site:

For a smartphone to work for emergency calls, and generally to work effectively in a post-3G era, it must be “VoLTE” compatible. This stands for Voice over LTE – effectively, your voice calls are made over the LTE (or 4G) data network.

As Telstra explains, “Some older 4G mobile phones require a 3G network to make calls to Triple Zero. This is a hardware feature built into the design of the phone by the manufacturer and it is a global, industry-wide issue that many countries have already worked through as they have closed their 3G networks. Following the closure of Australia’s 3G networks customers with these devices will not be able to make Triple Zero calls despite the device otherwise working normally. To be able to make an emergency call to Triple Zero once the 3G mobile networks are closed, 4G devices must support, and be configured to use, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) emergency calling. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is the international standard all mobile networks use to carry voice calls over 4G networks. We are contacting customers we have been able to identify as using one of these devices to let them know they need to check their device and will likely need to upgrade.”

The team at EFTM spent several hours yesterday trying to create a definitive list of 4G VoLTE enabled devices, unfortunately this is a difficult task.

Firstly, VoLTE wasn’t widely listed as a feature on many phones in the early days of the technology. Secondly, in some markets the activation of VoLTE was a carrier (network) choice.

So here’s what we believe to be the best advice at this stage.

For iPhone users, any iPhone from 2015 (iPhone 6) onward is VoLTE compatible.

For Samsung Galaxy S smartphone users, devices from the around the S7 onward – in 2016 are VoLTE compatible. This differs when we look down the other ranges like the A series, but if you use 2020 as the benchmark for phone compatibility that would be safe.

Google Pixel devices from Google Pixel 3 seem to be safely VoLTE compatible.

While for Nokia, Motorola and Oppo devices, due to the wide range of low priced and specification models, combined with higher priced models – it’s best that you check with your carrier – however that 2020 benchmark is likely a good guide. Anything before then you should check with your carrier.

Additionally, any grey-imported phone, a phone purchased overseas and brought to Australia is at high risk, as the specifications may differ.

If you contact your telco provider they can look at your network usage and device information and tell you if it is VoLTE compatible.

Don’t wait till it’s too late – find out now.

And, take the time to check in on the devices of your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours. Those people who are complacent about new technology, mainly because they don’t need the latest features and their older phone is still working – they are at the greatest risk here.