Verizon is asking the FCC for the same conditions on voice-over-IP (VoIP) calling that the government agency recently granted AT&T.
Earlier in October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) a waiver, saying that the carrier didn't have to support Teletype (TTY) voice-to-text support for hearing-impaired customers with VoIP calling. The carrier has now launched voice-over-WiFi (VoWiFi) calling.
AT&T has developed an alternative to TTY called Real-Time Text (RTT) that -- unlike TTY -- works well on IP networks. The FCC's waiver will last until 2017, or until it makes a decision on whether or not to continue requiring support of TTY, whichever comes first.
Where this gets interesting for Verizon is that the company has publicly said that it wants to launch an LTE-only handset this year. So it seems possible that such a device, which would support VoIP calling with no 3G voice fallback, would also be covered under such a waiver. (See Verizon Aggressively Working on VoLTE Transition .)
The benefit for Verizon being that it would -- eventually -- be able to re-use its 3G spectrum as it gets customers onto 4G or WiFi voice calling.
The cable companies may also be looking at the FCC's waivers with interest if rumors about a "WiFi first" mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) approach come to pass. (See Cable's Chance to Get Mobile Right.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading