AT&T Waits for VoLTE for Voice Roaming

Carrier tells the FCC it is not able to support voice roaming to 2G CDMA networks until it has VoLTE deployed and it isn't sure if it can support SMS while roaming on LTE data only.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

April 6, 2015

2 Min Read
AT&T Waits for VoLTE for Voice Roaming

AT&T is warning the FCC it may have to wait until it has voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) fully deployed to begin offering voice roaming to CDMA operators over its 700MHz spectrum.

Joseph Marx, assistant vice president of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s services division, clarified comments made on a conference call last week in a note to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. He was specifically addressing a statement AT&T made that "it may be necessary for some operators to wait until Voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming is available before operationalizing LTE data roaming."

Marx writes:

  • For CDMA operators, we would be able to support LTE Data Roaming but since voice is handled on the 2G CDMA network, there is no opportunity for AT&T to offer voice roaming until we support VoLTE. The staff also asked about SMS Texting while roaming on LTE data only and at this point it isn't clear that we'd be able to support SMS while roaming on the LTE data network.

For more on mobile topics, peruse the dedicated mobile content page here on Light Reading.

AT&T currently has VoLTE deployed in parts of about 20 states and is working toward a nationwide footprint to match both Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US Inc. , but hasn't put a timeline on its deployments yet. It has said it's also working with Verizon to achieve interoperability between one another's VoLTE services this year as well. (See AT&T Promises More VoLTE Markets in 2015 and Verizon, AT&T Plan VoLTE Harmony in 2015.)

AT&T has been working toward interoperability with other smaller carriers in the US as well, following a pledge in September 2013 to resolve compatibility issues between band 17 and band 12 in the 700MHz spectrum. (See AT&T Inks First LTE Roaming Deal in Canada and Mobile Migraine: Carrier Aggregation Roaming .)

It said last month that it will deploy a Multiple Frequency Band Indicator (MFBI) in its 700 MHz LTE network by the end of September, which will support LTE roaming for any carrier with a compatible band 12 device. It is also working with handset makers to offer devices that support band 12 MFBI via a software upgrade. (See Apple's New iPhones Have 20 LTE Bands, VoLTE and VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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