To date, LTE platforms carry only non-voice data. Voice is transitioned back to 3G networks. Clearly, great efficiencies will be gained when LTE carries both data and voice. The near completion of the initial rollout of LTE networks was the big story of 2013. The year ahead will be headlined by the transition to 4G voice, which is voice over LTE, or VoLTE.
Light Reading’s Dan Jones writes that AT&T is hyping expectations of a significant move into VoLTE during 2014. Writing from the 2014 AT&T Developer Summit, Jones indicated that the carrier claims to be nearing the end of testing. Jones adds that high-definition voice will be part of the VoLTE rollout. Cities that are to host VoLTE will be identified soon. Handsets capable of handling the service are being announced. G4Games, meanwhile, reports that the Korean media has identified Samsung as the vendor for handsets in the VoLTE trials.
AT&T isn’t the only telco on the VoLTE trail, though. PCMag has an interview with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. Though the piece doesn’t offer specifics, it is clear that VoLTE and LTE-Advanced, the high-capacity, next-generation version of LTE, are on the drawing board.
Verizon is always a key. Investors.com offers some background on the company’s VoLTE status. Its move to the technology has been delayed, but once it begins rolling out, the category will take off. On December 5, Verizon posted a press release commemorating the third anniversary of the launch of its 4G LTE service. Toward the end of the post, the company discussed its position on VoLTE:
And next year, customers will be able to experience Voice over LTE (VoLTE), a 4G LTE technology that can enable a host of advanced services, including HD Voice and video chat.
It also is important to remember that VoLTE isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Indeed, two of the earliest implementations back in August of 2012 were in South Korea.
That, of course, is ancient history in the world of telecommunications. This week, British mobile operator EE said that it will spend 275 million pounds this year to upgrade its services. The money will go to upgrading 11,000 2G cell sites, 7,000 3G sites and to trial VoLTE and other advanced voice services, according to The Inquirer.
China Mobile and ZTE are working together on a project. MobileWorld Live reports that the vendor and the carrier will deploy over a TD-LTE network in Guangzhou province as a “precursor” to a nationwide rollout. The story provides some of the technical details, including the use of ZTE’s enhanced single radio voice call continuity (eSRVCC), which accelerates switching times when calls move outside VoLTE service areas and must transfer to 2G or 3G networks.