VoLTE/Rich communications

AT&T Asks for a VoLTE Phone for Christmas

AT&T is hoping to get a voice over LTE (VoLTE) handset on the market in time for the lucrative holiday buying season.

FierceWireless reports that Krish Prabhu, the president of AT&T Labs, told the PCIA wireless infrastructure conference crowd Tuesday that the carrier is testing VoLTE in its network, with plans to deploy it commercially next year. That timeline is pushed back a bit from the original plan for a network launch this year, but AT&T is still hoping to have a handset ready before the launch. (See: AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year and AT&T Searches for VoLTE Product 'Leader'.)

"I do believe there might be a VoLTE-compliant device for the holidays this year," Prabhu said.

The AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) exec didn't outline which vendors are supporting its VoLTE plans, but Mavenir Systems Inc. lists the company as a customer in its SEC filing revealed Monday for an initial public offering. Mavenir was behind MetroPCS's VoLTE rollout, helping it become the first to deploy the technology, but neither company responded to questions about whether the newly public company is supporting AT&T's network rollout. (See: Mavenir Files for IPO.)

When AT&T does launch its first VoLTE handset, it won't be alone. Verizon Wireless has said it will launch a VoLTE handset by the end of the year, with plans for VoLTE-only devices (most likely not phones) coming next year. (See: Verizon Preps Network, Waits on Marketing Nod for VoLTE, Verizon Completes LTE Rollout, Turns to VoLTE, and CTIA: Verizon Pushes for Single-Mode LTE.)

Neither company has confirmed whether it will launch a service on par with 3G voice or if it will include rich communications services like HD video and presence. D2 Technologies Inc. COO Doug Makishima recently told Light Reading we should expect one to start small and the other to go big at launch. (See: Shades of VoLTE.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Sarah Thomas 10/8/2013 | 2:38:16 PM
Feedback from D2 Doug Makishima from D2 had some insight to share: 

"I suspect that if AT&T does ship VoLTE-compliant devices by end of year, while these devices will be VoLTE-enabled, they probably won't actually turn on VoLTE service until early next year or maybe just offer it in a few trial locations.  This similar to what Verizon has stated regarding their VoLTE-enabled devices that will be available by year's end.   It's a good strategy because you can seed the installed base with VoLTE/HD Voice enabled handsets, and then when you turn on service, there are more devices out there that can talk HD voice to each other."

SOunds like that's the strategy of both since the handsets are preceding the devices. Sprint and T-Mobile have been less clear on their timelines, only saying they plan to support VoLTE.

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