VoLTE/Rich communications

Will Apple Enable VoLTE for the iPad?

Apple appears to working towards VoLTE support on the iPad, but it's not yet clear when that capability might be added to commercially available products.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is expected to introduce the latest version of its iPad later this week (October 16), hot on the heels of the launch of the iPhone 6, which heralded Apple's first support for voice-over-LTE capabilities. (See Apple Eyes VoLTE as 4G Voice Gets Real.)

It seems clear that Apple intends to add VoLTE support for the iPad too -- at some point. A job posting from September, for instance, calls for a cellular engineer with VoLTE experience to work on the latest wireless features for the iPad and iPhone. It is also looking for engineers with SIP familiarity for Facetime and VoIP updates for iOS. (See Analyzing Apple & VoLTE.)

Keep up with the latest in VoLTE on our dedicated channel here on Light Reading.

VoLTE works by using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to initiate the 4G calls, which are transmitted in data packets, with the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) in the core network controlling the call session.

There is already a thriving ecosystem of third-party SIP clients that turn the iPad into a VoIP phone.

Apple could update the telephony stack for the iPad to allow VoLTE support now that it has introduced the feature with the iPhone 6. In theory, this could eventually allow VoLTE voice and video calls between different carrier networks and iOS and Android devices.

In practice, though, that won't be the case for a while: Even though Apple timed its support for VoLTE just as the major US mobile carriers began adding true 4G voice capabilities to their networks, most users don't have a VoLTE-compatible device. And while the carriers are now working on VoLTE interoperability between their networks, there's no indication yet as to when that might become a reality.(See Apple's New iPhones Have 20 LTE Bands, VoLTE and AT&T's Rinne: Carriers Working on VoLTE Interoperability.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

DanJones 10/14/2014 | 11:36:22 AM
Re: Voice plans The HD voice stuff I have tried definitely sounds better.
DanJones 10/14/2014 | 11:35:11 AM
Re: Voice plans Right and the advantage VoLTE has is that it will enable cross-device and cross-network comms. Or at least, it will, eventually...
melao2 10/14/2014 | 10:15:28 AM
Re: Voice plans Well, if the carriers dont make voice ubiquitous in our digital devices, the OTTs will do it (actually they already do).

So it is a must in my opinion, not the iPad specific thing, but the voice on our digital devices.
apj062005 10/14/2014 | 9:14:31 AM
Why NOT!! they absolutley should be enabling this on this go around.
Mitch Wagner 10/14/2014 | 4:50:29 AM
Re: Voice plans VoLTE on iPad is an opportunity to sell people a second mobile phone. What's not to like for carriers?
danielcawrey 10/13/2014 | 8:29:51 PM
Re: Voice plans I wonder if SIP-based telephony will equal better voice quality?

If there is one thing that I have noticed about Facebook Messenger's calling, it's that the voice quality is much better than that of my regular cell service on my phone. I think that is a virtue of it being a data-based service that Facebook wants to make sure has really good quality. At least, that's what I'm thinking. 
milan03 10/13/2014 | 5:57:46 PM
Voice plans Releasing an updated IP stack isn't the main issue here. It's the wireless operators selling and activating iPads with the voice plan enabled. 

Remember, VoLTE requires a valid voice plan since it's running on the baseband processor, not the application processor like other OTT solutions. So even though VoLTE leverages LTE data packets for voice sessions, those QCI=1 packets are coming out of your voice bucket not counted towards your data allotment.

So it's up to the operator to provision your iPad service for voice (over LTE), assuming that users are fine using generic iPad phone number. Enabling iPad for VoLTE operation via iOS CarrierBundle software update is literally the easiest part, and a non-issue here.
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