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AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
5/10/2013
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AT&T Inc. is planning to launch voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services by the end of this year, a move that will likely make it the first of the big three U.S. operators to do so.

"We're going to be prepared to do some initial markets by the end of the year," reiterated Bill Smith, president of network operations at AT&T. (See AT&T Amplifies Its 4G Voice.)

VoLTE marks a significant break from previous 2G and 3G voice services because it converts conversations into data packets over an IP network. This will allow operators to support video calls and enhanced messaging capabilities.

AT&T, however, doesn't have blanket coverage of the U.S. with LTE yet. It has just hit 212 live markets with the new technology and expects to have covered nearly 90 percent of the country by the end of the year, but will still support 3G calls on its VoLTE handsets.

"Our solution allows you to fall back to the UMTS network" when VoLTE capabilities aren't available, Smith says.

So where might AT&T launch first with VoLTE? Smith says that's ultimately down to the marketing department, echoing the comments of Verizon Wireless's CTO last week. (See Verizon Preps Network, Waits on Marketing Nod for VoLTE and AT&T Searches for VoLTE Product 'Leader'. )

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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DanJonesLRMobile
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DanJonesLRMobile,
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5/13/2013 | 12:42:44 PM
re: AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year
He *was* specifically talking about VoLTE in this case though.
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/11/2013 | 10:54:36 PM
re: AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year
Also, "4G" Voice for them can be UMTS, so we have to be careful when talking about their Voice solutions. Always be specific otherwise it's very easy to assume they're talking about VoLTE.
lanbrown
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lanbrown,
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5/11/2013 | 1:36:08 AM
re: AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year
90% by the end of year is a start, but 3G fallback will remain.
1) The 3G network needs to remain for non-LTE devices.
2) It will still be needed for LTE devices that don't support the AT&T bands; think people that are visiting.
3) Early and some current LTE handsets don't support VoLTE; so they will need 3G for voice calls.

So AT&T could have 100% LTE coverage with VoLTE support and they will still need 3G. The phones will continue to support 3G as a fallback for quite some time.

Look at how long 3G has been available; 7 years and you still have "GSM" (2G) support in the handsets; even in the current LTE as well as planned LTE handsets.
DanJonesLRMobile
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DanJonesLRMobile,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/10/2013 | 3:37:43 PM
re: AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year
Which begs the question, when will AT&T have dense enough LTE coverage that it DOESN'T require 3G fallback?
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