As expected, AT&T will launch its first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) markets on May 23. (See AT&T to Gain 4G Voice May 23?)
The carrier confirmed on Thursday that it will introduce high-definition VoLTE in selected areas of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin next week. At launch, the HD VoLTE service will be only enabled on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, but AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says more VoLTE-enabled devices are to come.
AT&T marks the third VoLTE announcement this week, and the first launch date confirmed by a Tier 1 operator in the US. Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) said it would turn on its 4G voice service in late June, and Hong Kong's HKT Ltd. also announced its VoLTE launch with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. enabling seamless handover 4G to 3G and between voice and video calls. (See NTT DoCoMo to Launch VoLTE Service.)
Analysts at Heavy Reading have maintained that VoLTE is necessary, valuable, and can expand a mobile network operator's addressable market. On the tail of these three launches, Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown says widespread deployment of VoLTE now looks certain in advanced markets.
"Virtually all mobile operators with a sizeable LTE access network have now decided to deploy an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-based core, and Heavy Reading expects a number of commercial services launches in 2014, especially by large, progressive mobile broadband operators, with more to follow in 2015," he tells Light Reading.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading