Addressing an Oppenheimer conference this week, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo outlined the company's timeline for VoLTE:
- In late 2013, Verizon will begin offering the first VoLTE-capable handsets with CDMA chips for fallback. (See: Verizon Ups Spend for VoLTE & 4G Video Hogs.)
- In early 2014, it will turn on VoLTE in the network. (See: Verizon Promises Voice-Over-LTE in 2014.)
- In late 2014, it will launch the first single-mode dedicated VoLTE smartphones (See: CTIA: Verizon Pushes for Single-Mode LTE.)
When voice is no longer a line item, there's a good chance Verizon will change the pricing for its data-only network. It hasn't said when or whether unlimited data will be gone for good, but Shammo did say handset subsidy prices should fall in three to four years by virtue of "the technology and the manufacturing efficiency of this technology," as well as increasing competition.
"As you get to the end of 2014, we will have our first LTE-only handset," Shammo told the Oppenheimer crowd, according to the Android Authority blog. "When that happens, I then take the CDMA chip out of the handset, and my subsidy will decrease."
However, as the Android Authority aptly points out, Shammo didn't clarify whether he meant that the subsidies Verizon pays will fall, or that the prices its customers pay for devices will fall. It could be both.
Verizon has the largest LTE footprint in the US, but AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) may beat it to the punch on VoLTE. It plans to turn on 4G voice in its network this year. Neither operator has said whether its service will support only voice and SMS or a full suite of rich communications services at launch. (See: AT&T Plans 4G Voice Launch This Year and Shades of VoLTE.)— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading