Verizon revealed Thursday morning that it intends to have its first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) smartphones available early in 2014.
"We'll start to have VoLTE-capable phones by the end of this year, and we'll commercially launch early next year," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said on the operator’s first-quarter call.
The term voice-over-LTE refers to the running of voice calls alongside data on the 4G IP network. Current smartphones run data over 4G but fall back to 3G for voice.
Rival AT&T Inc. has promised a limited launch for VoLTE phones later this year. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless CTO Nicola Palmer said in October that she expected Verizon's first VoLTE phones late in 2013 and that the operator was working on issues such as deploying wideband codecs for clear calls and quality-of-service priorities for calls on the network.
This advance actually means that Verizon Wireless will introduce its first devices without 3G CDMA chips sometime next year, the CFO confirmed on the call.
Why this matters VoLTE phones herald the eventual shuttering of the Verizon 3G network and the ability to reuse the spectrum for 4G or other purposes. It is too soon to say exactly when that will happen, however, as Shammo noted on the call.
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