4G Finally Gets a Voice

6:00 PM -- 4G finally has a commercial voice-over-Long Term Evolution (LTE) (VoLTE) application with Tuesday's launch of the new calling service in South Korea.

SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM)'s VoLTE will be quite limited to start with as its only available over the Samsung Corp. Galaxy S3 smartphone. Nonetheless, it will be an important proving ground for the new 4G application as a mass deployment of a technology that had the industry bickering over standards and specifications for a couple of years.

Intriguingly, the operator claims that its 4G voice service is actually better than its 3G offering. SK says the call connection time for the high-definition voice service is less than 0.25 to 2.5 seconds, while 3G voice calls take, on average, five seconds to connect, and the call quality is better.

This opens up an interesting possibility for smaller operators like T-Mobile US Inc. that are currently looking at VoLTE: the option to compete on voice quality on its new network and possibly look at really sharp, crisp calls as a premium service.

That would certainly go against the prevailing winds of the wireless industry right now, with shared plans that push data as the more expensive part of the package and have unlimited voice simply thrown in as an afterthought. Everything, however, on an LTE network is IP data, so it might make sense to offer top-notch voice at a premium to those who want it.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:24:32 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

What would it take in N. America for voice service to be considered valuable? Right now our service providers have convinced us that it's worthless, or worth very little. As Dan pointed out, data is the premium service and voice is an after-thought.

And, interestingly, most voice service via cellphone is an after-thought. It's horrible. I do my business calls on Skype for the most part because AT&T's cellular voice service is so bad (or maybe my iPhone is just not a great phone -- I can't tell).

Anyway, what would it take to convince consumers that voice matters?

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:24:32 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

But, voice really is so terrible! Making phone calls is painful. Maybe more advertising and promotion around how good voice can be will remind people it's still an option. I think they gave up on because of the combo of poor quality and ease of texting.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:24:31 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

MetroPCS also announced commercial VoLTE service and its first VoLTE-capable handset today in the U.S. I bet this is the start of more announcements soon to come.

gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:24:30 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

If Metro can beat the can-you-hear-me guy and the the American-morse-code-company and deliver HD voice, and offer that all at lower price, they have a winner.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:24:29 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

I just might switch.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:24:28 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

MetroPCS's VoLTE LG Connect is only being sold in its Dallas/Fort Worth stores now. Phil, can you try it out for us, and let us know if we should be switching? 

opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 5:24:26 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

Isn't Sprint offering HD voice sometime this year? It isn't VoLTE, which make sense considering Sprint has a long way to go to get wide LTE coverage. I assume they (and everyone else) will eventually transition to VoLTE.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:24:23 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

Supposedly the end of the year for HD launch.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:24:22 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice


So Phil....why not use your landline?



DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:24:22 PM
re: 4G Finally Gets a Voice

What's a landline?

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