Light Reading

Verizon to Launch HD VoLTE in 'Coming Weeks'

Sarah Thomas
8/26/2014
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Verizon's long-awaited nationwide launch of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) is slated to begin "in the coming weeks," bringing high-definition voice and video calling to compatible smartphones.

Verizon Wireless announced what it's calling "Advanced Calling 1.0" on Tuesday via a blog post. It promised a simplified contact list with video camera icons next to those who are equipped to receive video calls, which can easily be switched to from voice calls and vice versa. The audio for voice and video calls will also be delivered in HD, it says. (See Verizon VoLTE Testing Spotted.)

To take advantage of VoLTE, both parties on the call must be Verizon customers on capable handsets. The carrier says it has been seeding the market with handsets, which it will VoLTE-enable with a software upgrade going forward. (See Apple Eyes VoLTE as 4G Voice Gets Real.)


Catch up on all the 4G voice advances on our dedicated VoLTE/rich communications channel here on Light Reading.


Verizon is the third of the big four to launch VoLTE. The technology has been in the works at the carrier for years, but has suffered many delays and setbacks. Unlike its competitors, Verizon is launching nationwide rather than in select cities. Because Verizon would eventually like to offer VoLTE-only calling, making sure its LTE network is up to the task is critical. For now, VoLTE will just be an "opt-in" choice on handsets, and Verizon customers will still have 3G calling as a fallback. (See Verizon Beefing Up Network for VoLTE, Multicast Video and Verizon Promises Voice-Over-LTE in 2014.)

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has VoLTE up and running in parts of four states, while T-Mobile US Inc. claims nationwide coverage. HD voice champion Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has yet to commit to a VoLTE timeline, although the latest rumors have it looking at mid-2015 for a launch. New CEO Marcelo Claure promised at a recent town hall to have an answer in the future to an internal question about why T-Mobile has VoLTE and Sprint doesn't. (See Sprint CEO: Price Cuts First, Best Network Next , T-Mobile Expands VoLTE, Gets Going with 700MHz 4G, T-Mobile Beats AT&T, Verizon to VoLTE and AT&T Confirms VoLTE Launch in 4 States.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/31/2014 | 10:36:03 PM
Re: CDMA handoff
"Verizon could also upgrade their entire network to Release 10 and attempt to implement something similar to eSRVCC, but that would've further delayed their VoLTE launch."

@milan03,

Which would be better?
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/27/2014 | 2:06:13 AM
Re: CDMA handoff
I guess you could look at it that way. You can also compare it to Verizon's Tier 1 competitors that are offering VoLTE->3G/2G mid-call handoff just fine. Most of that has to do with 3GPP fallback architecture.

That opt-in on Verizon's site is clearly the safety created to put a concious decision on consumers for that exact lack of handoff.

Verizon could also upgrade their entire network to Release 10 and attempt to implement something similar to eSRVCC, but that would've further delayed their VoLTE launch.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/27/2014 | 12:30:33 AM
Re: CDMA handoff
@milan03,

Verizon service is typically viewed as the flagship with few dropped calls in most places. Why switch it up now... for premium service that will drop calls?
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 10:48:56 PM
Re: CDMA handoff
Sounds like the way it was 15 years ago when PCS arrived.   Then it was only in Metro areas.   At one point, one of the largest carriers here in Washington was successful...because it ran an analog network that served the rural areas not yet covered by the new mass market cell services!
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 7:39:08 PM
Re: CDMA handoff
There will be no handoff to CDMA. If you exit the LTE coverage area during that VoLTE call, your voice session completely drops.

I'm guessing this is why Verizon wants their subscribers to "Opt-In" to VoLTE by logging into their Verizon accounts and agreeing the terms... On other operators it's a matter of simply flipping the switch in the UE settings...

There is always something with Verizon.
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 4:02:54 PM
Re: Future of Skype
...single-mode LTE phones...

That should be a boon for battery life on smartphones.

At least with mine, it seems like keeping the CDMA network active is the main drain of energy.

 
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
8/26/2014 | 1:42:02 PM
CDMA handoff
Btw, Verizon appears to be launching VoLTE before it has tackled the issue of handoff with its 3G CDMA network. It's positioning making it opt in as supporting customer choice, but that's more likely because it can't do it seamlessly.
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
8/26/2014 | 1:24:40 PM
Re: Supplier of VoLTE?
Definitely agree. We were left out of the gadget guys' group that got to try them earlier this month, but hopefully we'll get demo units soon.
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
8/26/2014 | 1:23:59 PM
Re: Future of Skype
Will this just become normal for phone carriers to provide apps that do phone services?

I think it's already normal for carriers to provide phone services...this was the natural evolution for them, and it should be one thing -- THE thing -- they really get right.

And, yes, that day is coming next year for Verizon, which has said it will launch single-mode LTE phones then.
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 1:20:20 PM
Future of Skype
What does this say about the future of independent VoIP applications like Skype?  Will this just become normal for phone carriers to provide apps that do phone services?

I look for the day of the all-Internet handset (what might really be called the UMPC or Ultra-Mobile PC) that doesn't even have a CDMA connection, just regular LTE/tcpip.

 
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