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October 10, 2012
The future of MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS)'s voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) service remains uncertain today as a senior executive from Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT) claims that the operator does not plan to discontinue its 4G voice service. (See MetroPCS Changes Course on 4G Voice.)
A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Tuesday revealed a PowerPoint presentation by T-Mobile US Inc. CTO Neville Ray in which the technology migration plan was mapped out for the new company that would be created if the proposed merger of T-Mobile and MetroPCS goes through. One diagram suggests that MetroPCS's current VoLTE network would not make it into the new company's technology roadmap. (See T-Mobile, MetroPCS to Merge.)
The news hit the share price of Acme Packet -- a key supplier of VoLTE gear, such as session border controllers -- bringing it down as much as 7 percent on Tuesday. Wednesday, the company's shares on Nasdaq were down about 3 percent in afternoon trading.
But MetroPCS is not discontinuing VoLTE, Seamus Hourihan, senior vice president for strategy at Acme Packet, tells Light Reading Mobile. He claims to have received an email from Ed Chao, senior vice president of corporate engineering and network operations at MetroPCS, affirming that.
"The rumors that MetroPCS is not continuing with VoLTE with Acme Packet and their vendors -- that is not the case," Hourihan says.
He also says that the technology migration plan in Tuesday's SEC filing shows an "incomplete picture."
Hourihan believes T-Mobile will have to deploy VoLTE in order to compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which have the IMS-based technology firmly on their network roadmaps. (See 4G Finally Gets a Voice.)
"If you want to be a competitive mobile provider in the U.S., are you not going to offer VoLTE, which is not just for voice, but also video and IP-based presence? The answer to that is no," he says. "[Not having VoLTE] makes absolutely no sense from my perspective."
"Given the fact that MetroPCS has been a pioneer on VoLTE, the new company would want to leverage that experience," he says.
Hourihan says that as LTE will be the next-generation technology for both MetroPCS and T-Mobile networks, VoLTE will be the next-generation voice service for both companies. "If they're not planning that, how are they going to compete?" he asks.
"If they want to compete in the U.S. marketplace, eventually they will have to have VoLTE as well," he says.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile
Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.
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