VoLTE/Rich communications

Verizon Aggressively Working on VoLTE Transition

Verizon Wireless has 4 million customers using voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) today, and it's working aggressively to move it from an opt-in feature to an out-of-box offering and, eventually, to the only voice option on LTE phones.

Speaking at an Oppenheimer conference on Tuesday, David Small, executive vice president of wireless operations at Verizon Wireless , said the carrier is going through a natural evolution when it comes to 4G voice, which it flipped the switch on nationwide in September of last year. (See Verizon to Launch HD VoLTE in 'Coming Weeks'.)

Currently, it's an opt-in feature that's being suggested by Verizon employees when customers buy a new device. Verizon is, however, working "aggressively" to make VoLTE the default calling option on new phones out of the box. The end goal, of course, is to be able to offer LTE-only phones and refarm its 3G CDMA spectrum for LTE. (See Verizon Begins 3G Refarming to Add LTE Capacity.)

That is still a ways off -- Small said it would happen when the carrier could guarantee a "Verizon Wireless-like experience" with voice. In the meantime, it has at least been able to get "much, much more attractive pricing" on those handsets that have CDMA in them. "We really get that benefit," he said.

VoLTE runs over Verizon's 4G data network, but Small said all the data consumed for voice is mediated out, so consumers won't see an additional charge for it.

For more on 4G voice, visit the dedicated VoLTE content section here on Light Reading.

To realize the benefit of improved voice quality and call set-up times on the 4G network, both users have to have VoLTE-capable Verizon handsets and have gone into their settings to turn the feature on. At present, it's not the most obvious process, but Small said that almost 4 million Verizon customers have flipped the switch. (See Verizon, AT&T Plan VoLTE Harmony in 2015.)

Verizon has a team of system performance engineers dedicated to testing VoLTE with handset providers, in addition to the 100 employees it has doing drive tests across the country. The service is performing better than its traditional 3G voice, he said, and isn't receiving any more call-in complaints than non-advanced calling. Customers value the experience, Small said, but added that Verizon's overall call quality has always been better than its competitors. (See VoLTE Triumphs (if Conditions Are Just Right) and Verizon VoLTE Testing Spotted.)

"From the time we launched our voice service until the time we [got a] drop call rate of .4, which is a good place for consumers to be, it took us quite some time to get there -- many, many years," Small said of 3G voice. "It took us half the time to get to pretty close performance metrics with VoLTE or advanced calling. We feel very good about the service."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
Sarah Thomas 8/12/2015 | 2:14:14 PM
Re: Odd It's not a matter of how many customers they can support on VoLTE...they can probably support all of them. It's more about making sure VoLTE works well and LTE coverage is strong enough that 3G fallback will no longer be needed. If you're in an area that doesn't have good LTE coverage, you'd be without a calling option on VoLTE-only phones. 
Sarah Thomas 8/12/2015 | 2:12:35 PM
Re: Odd Verizon has said in the past that it won't have VoLTE-only handsets before 2016. I imagine it'll be a bit further out than that even.
Bharath Shenoy 8/12/2015 | 2:23:47 AM
Re: Odd how much time it would take to the transition to only voice option on LTE phones?
Mitch Wagner 8/11/2015 | 5:43:29 PM
Re: Odd Still seems odd to me. Why not just decide how many customers they can support on VoLTE, and roll it out to that number? 
Sarah Thomas 8/11/2015 | 12:24:39 PM
Verizon VoLTE phones A Verizon PR rep let me know on Twitter that the carrier currently has 19 phones that support VoLTE, mostly Android, but also including the iPhone 6 and 6+.
Sarah Thomas 8/11/2015 | 11:56:03 AM
Re: Odd Because it's SO limited that it doesn't want consumers to expect it all the time. It's also hard to discover. I only have two people I can make VoLTE calls with, and I had to show them both how to enable it. It'd be easy enough to make the default, since people only expect 3G calls, but they want it to be more widespread first.
Mitch Wagner 8/11/2015 | 11:53:48 AM
Odd Why is Verizon offering VoLTE as opt-in? Seems like an odd choice. 
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