Say hello to VoLTE calling

VoLTE, or voice over LTE (LTE is the technical name for 4G), is the next evolution of mobile calling that uses the 4G network for traditional voice calls. For the past decade, voice calls have been primarily carried out over the 3G network. In order to make calls over 4G, you need to have a VoLTE capable mobile phone. While you may have a 4G capable phone, your device may still fall back to 3G when you make or receive a call unless it's also capable of VoLTE. 

Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) and 4G-only mobile coverage

The Rural Connectivity Group (RCG), a joint venture between Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees is building more than 400 mobile towers to provide fixed wireless home broadband connectivity in rural areas. This is part of the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2).  With this comes new 4G-only mobile coverage in these areas which customers can use whilst on the go.

Because the purpose of this fund is predominantly to connect rural addresses that previously had no internet at home, most of this new coverage is 4G-only. This allows customers to get set up with wireless broadband. 3G is unavailable in many of these areas, which means that since voice calls have historically worked over the 3G network, some mobile phones will not be able to make traditional voice calls whilst connected to the new RCG towers. Most 4G capable phones however, can use data and SMS in these areas and will have service bars at the top of the screen, so apps such as WhatsApp and Skype can be used to make calls over data. 3G only phones will not be able to use this new coverage. 

Some RCG sites do provide 3G coverage - these are usually on main highways or accident blackspots to provide mobile coverage for safety purposes. 

Spark VoLTE capable phones 

Over recent years, mobile network operators (MNOs) have been working with manufacturers to enable VoLTE on as many mobile devices as possible, including existing models, for use on New Zealand's 4G mobile networks. For each MNO, this process involves working with manufacturers of each type of device to test VoLTE on their network before it can be enabled for the customer.

Spark VoLTE roaming capable phones

Worldwide, our roaming carrier partners are starting to retire their 3G and 2G networks to free up frequencies and network resources for their 4G and 5G networks.

To ensure customers can continue to make and receive calls when roaming, Spark is working with manufacturers to enable VoLTE roaming on most commonly used mobile phone models, and with its roaming carriers to launch VoLTE roaming on their networks.

VoLTE roaming is very similar to VoLTE calling within NZ, however there are some restrictions around mobile devices.

To find out if your device is VoLTE roaming capable, please see ‘Is my device VoLTE roaming capable?’ This is located in the FAQ section below.


Frequently asked questions

Here’s a bit of information to help you understand the ins and outs of VoLTE calling, and what it means for you. 

VoLTE calling is available wherever our 4G service is available. Check out where Spark has 4G coverage: See the Spark coverage map

*Our coverage maps are updated on a quarterly basis so may not reflect new coverage. We're working on a process to make these updates more frequent. 

Here’s how you can see if you're making a call with VoLTE – be sure to turn off WiFi on your mobile first. 

  • Apple: For iPhone 6s and later, you’ll see “4G” in the status bar (top of your screen) when using VoLTE. 
  • Samsung: You'll see a small VoLTE icon in the status bar. While making a call you'll also see a small 'HD' icon on the screen. 
  • Huawei: You may see "HD" when the call is connected or has gone to voicemail and you won't see any icons while it's ringing. Otherwise, you’ll see a small VoLTE icon in the status bar. You should also see VoLTE written on the green dialer button when you make a call. 
  • OPPO: You'll see "VoLTE" in the status bar if you've turned on VoLTE.
  • Nokia: You'll see "VoLTE" near the status bar when you pull down the notifications menu

To use VoLTE on the Spark network, you must have three things: 

  1. A VoLTE capable device - to see if your device is VoLTE capable, check our device compatibility list
  2. VoLTE provisioned on your account - Spark may automatically provision VoLTE on your account, for example if we detect you are in RCG coverage (see ‘How do I know if I’m using VoLTE?’ FAQ) 
  3. VoLTE activated on the device -  see ‘How do I activate VoLTE on my phone?’ Check you have the latest software update on your phone before doing this. (Data charges apply to software updates installed using data, so we recommend downloading software updates over WiFi.) 


To use VoLTE on the Spark network, you must have three things. 

  1. A VoLTE capable device (see Is my VoLTE capable? FAQ). 
  2. VoLTE provisioned on your account (see step 4 below).
  3. VoLTE activated on the device -  see step 3 below. 

On most devices that support VoLTE it's enabled by default, however, in some cases you’ll need to manually enable it using the steps below:  

  1. Make sure you're on the Spark mobile network. 

  2. Check that you're using the latest software on your phone. Data charges apply to software updates installed using data. So, we recommend downloading software updates over WiFi
    • Apple iPhone: Settings > General > About Device > Software Update.
    • Huawei: Settings > System > Software Update > Check for Updates.
    • Nokia: Settings > System > Advanced > System Update.
    • OPPO: Settings > Software Updates.
    • Samsung: Settings > Software Update > Download and install.

  3. Switch VoLTE on in your phone settings. 
    • iPhone: (eligible iPhones that have iOS 14 installed will have VoLTE Calling on by default).
    • Samsung: Tap Settings > Connections > Mobile networks. Toggle VoLTE calls.
    • Huawei: Tap Settings > Wireless & Networks > Mobile Network. Toggle VoLTE calls.
    • OPPO: Tap Settings > Dual SIM (or ‘SIM card and mobile data on single SIM models) & Cellular Network. Choose SIM 1 or SIM 2 (just SIM on single SIM phones). Toggle VoLTE calls.
    • Nokia: Tap Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Network > Advanced. Toggle Enhanced 4G LTE Mode.

  4. If VoLTE still isn't working after trying the above, you may need to contact Spark to request VoLTE be provisioned on your account. 

Note: Some of the above instructions may differ slightly for each model. If you're having trouble, please look under mobile settings in your settings menu. If you'd like to disable VoLTE calling for any reason, please reverse the steps above. 

If your phone doesn’t support VoLTE but is 4G capable, you will see service bars at the top of your phone and be able to use data and text. However,  you won't be able to make traditional voice calls in areas where there's no 3G available, including to emergency services. Spark 3G is widely available across New Zealand, however some rural areas have 4G-only coverage.  

If your phone doesn’t support VoLTE roaming but is 4G capable, you will see service bars at the top of your phone and be able to use data and text. However, you won't be able to make traditional voice calls in areas where a roaming carrier doesn’t have 3G or 2G available, including to emergency services. To see if your device is VoLTE capable, check our device compatibility list

If the device hasn't been tested in New Zealand, Spark can’t guarantee that VoLTE will work correctly on your phone. The manufacturer may have disabled VoLTE when the phone is not in the country it was purchased from. If you want to try enabling VoLTE, please contact Spark to provision the phone and we will advise you on some simple tests you should try. 

VoLTE calls don’t use data and are charged either per minute or as part of your plan the same way as traditional voice calls. If data is switched off on your phone, you can still make and receive VoLTE calls.

Yes, you can call anyone using VoLTE, including your friends and family that are on 3G Voice or other networks. 

Yes, you can continue to make three-way conference calls if you’re on a Pay Monthly plan. You can't make three-way calls if you’re on a Prepaid plan.

For a true high definition VoLTE calling experience, both the caller and the receiver must be using VoLTE enabled devices. 

Yes, activating VoLTE has no additional cost for Spark mobile customers. Voice, text and data usage will still incur charges on your mobile plan as usual. 

The Spark 3G network is closing across the country as technology evolves and moves forward. For our 4G availability, check here

Yes, emergency calling on a VoLTE capable device is supported when in coverage. Your call will be carried over the best available network at the time to the emergency services operators. If your phone is not VoLTE capable and compatible and you are in a 4G-only coverage area, you won't be able to use it to phone emergency services.  

Service bars at the top of your screen reflect the strength of the mobile coverage available to you. If you’re in a 4G-only coverage area and aren’t able to make or receive a call, it’s likely that you don’t have VoLTE functioning on your device despite being able to see service bars. If your phone is 4G capable, you’ll be able to use data and send and receive texts without VoLTE. Note: Not all 4G capable phones are also VoLTE capable. 

If you're connected to a 4G only RCG tower and someone calls you the network will instruct your phone to drop to 3G for the call (this is known as 3G or circuit-switched fallback). Your phone should continue to make and receive calls in locations where it worked prior to the RCG site being activated. 

The RCG programme is predominantly focused on connecting rural addresses that previously had no option for getting the internet at home. The new cell towers are strategically built to reach these addresses and provide new coverage that allows those in rural areas to connect to wireless home broadband. Wireless broadband uses the 4G network, therefore most RCG sites are 4G-only. With this comes new  4G  mobile coverage in these areas which customers can use whilst on the go, and while this is a great benefit, it's not the aim of the programme.  

If your phone is listed under ‘Is my device VoLTE capable?’ but you are still unable to make or receive voice calls, one of the following may be true for you:  

  • VoLTE is not enabled on your handset or you need to update your device software.
  • VoLTE has not been provisioned on your mobile account by Spark.
  • If your phone is not from Spark, or you purchased it overseas, your phone may not work with VoLTE on Spark’s network – if you want to try enabling VoLTE, contact us and we will advise you on some simple tests you should try. You have no coverage where you are.