The 4G voice revolution is gaining momentum: high-definition voice service over LTE has been commercially launched by 10 operators in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the US, while many more have invested in the technology to support voice-over LTE capabilities, according to the latest statistics published by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) .
The GSA notes that 66 service providers spanning 35 countries have invested in VoLTE studies, trials, or deployments, with 10 operators in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the US, having actually launched an HD VoLTE service. The GSA also notes that there are now 92 different smartphone models that support the 4G voice variant. (See T-Mobile Beats AT&T, Verizon to VoLTE, AT&T Confirms VoLTE Launch in 4 States and NTT DoCoMo to Launch VoLTE Service.)
If you need a refresher on how VoLTE works, Yahoo! Tech breaks it down for regular folks in the following video -- although it says the three major US carriers have plans to roll it out, so it seems it has already written off Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S).
The GSA's numbers might not seem all that compelling -- after all, 10 operators with HD VoLTE is not many -- but 4G voice has been making steady progress around the world during the past few months: Dutch incumbent KPN Mobile has just announced a VoLTE trial, while Vodafone New Zealand says it will have it up and running before the end of the year. (See NTT DoCoMo Launches VoLTE on Qualcomm's Snapdragon and VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It.)
In the US, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. each have a few markets up and running -- four for AT&T and 15 for T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless is planning to launch this year, and Sprint is now rumored to be targeting mid-2015 for its 4G voice launch. (See AT&T to Gain 4G Voice May 23?, Verizon VoLTE Testing Spotted, and Sprint's Hesse: HD Voice Goes Nationwide in July .)
The GSA says that 318 operators have commercially launched LTE networks and services in 111 countries, with 51 going live during the past year alone.
For more background on this topic, see:
- Nearly 500 Operators Make the 4G Pledge
- LTE Hits the Ton: Now Live in 100 Countries
- LTE to Cover Half the Globe by 2017 – GSMA
- LTE Device Numbers Double in 2013 – GSA
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading