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T-Mobile Expands VoLTE, Gets Going with 700MHz 4G

Dan Jones

T-Mobile says it has now launched voice-over-LTE across its 4G network footprint in the US.

The IP voice service launch was one of the ongoing updates that T-Mobile US Inc. made about its 4G LTE network during its second-quarter earnings call Thursday morning. "As of now we have VoLTE... nationwide," CEO John Legere said on the call.

T-Mobile was the first of the four largest US carriers to officially launch VoLTE. It first deployed in Seattle in May and has been rolling out to more markets since then. (See T-Mobile Beats AT&T, Verizon to VoLTE.)

For ongoing updates on LTE, visit Light Reading's dedicated 4G news channel.

The operator has also started deploying LTE in both new and old spectrum. "The first 700MHz sites are on air right now -- 700MHz handsets are being field tested now and should be available in the fourth quarter," Legere said. (See T-Mobile: Going Bananas for Low-Band .)

T-Mobile got access to this low-band spectrum thanks to a $2.4 billion deal with Verizon Wireless that closed in April. The spectrum allows T-Mobile to offer better suburban, rural and indoor coverage. (See T-Mobile: Going Bananas for Low-Band .)

The operator also recently spent $50.5 million on more 700MHz licenses, and is working with some broadcasters to move their transmissions so they don't interfere with possible 700MHz mobile services.

The service provider has also started to convert its remaining 2G network footprint to 4G. The first 1900MHZ 4G sites are now up, Legere said.

All told, T-Mobile's LTE network now reaches 233 million people in the US, and Legere says the operator will cover more than 250 million potential customers by the end of the year.

All this means T-Mobile is expecting to spend $4.3 billion to $4.6 billion on capital expenditure this year. The operator spent $947 million on capex in the second quarter of 2014, compared to $1.1 billion in the same quarter last year, and $947 million in the first quarter of 2014.

T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter said he expects that figure "to ramp up later this year" as T-Mobile continues its 4G push.

T-Mobile broke through the 50 million subscriber market in its second quarter, adding 1.5 million subscribers net. It reported a profit of $391 million on revenue that grew 15% year-on-year to $7.19 billion.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/6/2014 | 4:53:24 PM
Re: Anyone *actually* used the VoLTE yet?
How will users even know if they're using VoLTE? 
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/3/2014 | 1:32:31 AM
Re: Anyone *actually* used the VoLTE yet?
In order to succesfully deploy VoLTE on a 3GPP network you need to be able to provide seamless call continuity, or hadoffs from VoLTE to legacy layers. For that you need an LTE-Advaced unique feature called eSRVCC (enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity) which essentially handles the calls accross the technologies like a boss.

Well, the benefit of being last to enter the LTE game in the U.S. is that you get to pick the latest and greatest equipment, and considering that T-Mobile had $6+ Billion dollars from AT&T breakup fee, they've secured the best equipment that Ericsson and NSN had in 2012, and that was Release 10 or LTE-Advanced equipment.

This is why today T-Mobile can easily and seamlessly flip the switch and have VoLTE across the entire LTE footprint without major issues. T-Mobile's entire LTE footprint has been Release 10 since day one!

AT&T's network was for the most part deployed in 2011, and the equipment is mostly Release 9. In Release 8/9 you don't have eSRVCC mechanism, so call handoffs and continuity is pretty wonky. That's why they're taking a "per market" VoLTE approach while they're performing the neccessary upgrades to Release 10 market by market. Right now they have VoLTE in 3 areas including Minneapolis. 

CDMA 3GPP2 networks will have to go VoLTE Only route, as there isn't a solid mechanism that would handoff VoLTE to 1x, and that's a major problem. That's why Verizon will have to go nationwide VoLTE once their network is ready with AMR-WB codec, and Sprint doesn't even have an immediate plan to deploy VoLTE or use AMR-WB.

I've tried T-Mobile's VoLTE in NYC market, the calls are aboslutely stunning quality. If you're used to T-Mobile's HD Voice, this sounds even better. UMTS HD Voice is using 12.65kbps AMR-WB codec, while VoLTE-to-VoLTE is 23.85kbps. Gotta hear to believe!
User Rank: Blogger
7/31/2014 | 3:03:48 PM
Anyone *actually* used the VoLTE yet?
Anyone actually used the VoLTE yet? We wanna know...
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