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T-Mobile Beats AT&T, Verizon to VoLTE

Sarah Thomas
5/22/2014

T-Mobile is officially the first Tier 1 US operator to go live with voice over LTE, having launched the 4G voice service near its home market of Seattle.

The carrier is beating AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) by one day in announcing its service is live in Seattle and working on the LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) G Flex and the Samsung Corp. Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Light via a software update. AT&T plans to launch VoLTE in parts of four states tomorrow, and Verizon Wireless has said it will go live with its 4G voice service with HD voice and video calling sometime in the coming months. (See Verizon's Journey to VoLTE, in Videos and AT&T Confirms VoLTE Launch in 4 States.)

T-Mobile US Inc. -owned MetroPCS was actually the first to launch VoLTE in the US back in 2012, so the carrier might have had a leg up. It will offer VoLTE with HD voice, which it has been providing for 3G calls since January 2013. In a blog post on the launch, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote the carrier has "been working hard on a LTE Advanced version of VoLTE, which we plan to roll out to more T-Mobile customers throughout the coming year." (See MetroPCS Changes Course on 4G Voice.)

Ray also wrote that the carrier will be the first in the US to use enhanced single-radio voice call continuity (eSRVCC) to ensure calls aren't dropped when its customers move from an LTE pocket to an HSPA+ or 2G area. He called VoLTE a step toward offering a host of rich communications services and additional innovations around WiFi calling in the coming months, suggesting T-Mobile's launch will just include HD voice initially.

After months -- even years -- of delays, VoLTE is finally coming to the US. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is the only operator that has yet to give a solid timeline for deploying its version of the 4G voice technology. (See VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It and Sprint Taps BroadSoft for VoLTE Transition.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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RitchBlasi
RitchBlasi
5/27/2014 | 2:01:06 PM
VoLTE
Here we go again with the boasting rights.  None of this is going to be a big deal until there is a national footprint.  Even if backward compatibility works flawlessly.  For Verizon, VoLTE makes sense since it wasn't able to offer simultaneous voice and data, for GSM guys, it's the next evolutionary step and maybe not required as much.  Legre can add this to his "no-contract/contract," and "intl roaming on 2G" feathers in his caps.  He might want to keep an eye on those profits though.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
5/23/2014 | 1:46:44 PM
Re: VoLTE wars
I expect the iPhone will get support for VoLTE soon enough. 

The iPhone is reportedly technically capable of supporting VoLTE now, but there are network barriers. Also, battery life is something to be concerned about. The iPhone 5, at least, has pretty bad battery life even without VoLTE making an additional drain. 
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
5/23/2014 | 11:59:41 AM
Re: VoLTE wars
This post suggests the latest iPhones are VoLTE capable, but I'm not so sure. Either way, I don't think we'll see Apple allowing it on this generation of devices. 
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
5/22/2014 | 8:26:34 PM
Re: VoLTE wars
Nope. Just a (very) few select Androids right now. 
DHagar
DHagar
5/22/2014 | 8:08:22 PM
Re: VoLTE
@FakeMitchWagner, first counts doesn't it?

This sounds like we are moving forward into the future - the race is on!
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
5/22/2014 | 7:31:32 PM
Re: VoLTE wars
One day lead doesn't make much difference, but it's a nice way to tweak the competition. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
5/22/2014 | 7:30:57 PM
Re: VoLTE wars
Do you know if the iPhone 5 supports VoLTE? Reason I ask is that it already has terrible battery life, and if VoLTE drains the battery well that will just exacerbate the problem. 
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
5/22/2014 | 5:13:03 PM
Re: VoLTE wars
No one mentioned that in their announcements. You'd think it'd have to be on par by now or they wouldn't move forward. That was one of the reasons for the many delays, after all.
KBode
KBode
5/22/2014 | 5:07:13 PM
Re: VoLTE wars
Eager to see some actual hands on. Have they resolved the battery issues that delayed so many of these deployments to begin with?
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
5/22/2014 | 3:56:51 PM
VoLTE wars
Looks like (or sounds like) VoLTE is going to become the new marketing wars topic. All of these services have serious geographic and handset limitations, but good to see the progress. Will be interesting to hear how they sound and interconnect with each other too.
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