The next big thing for smartphone carriers is HD Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) or whatever you want to call it – to have high-quality sound over your wireless device. The nation’s largest network, Verizon, turned on their VoLTE feature in September 2014, but has been mum on exactly how many of its 103.7 million prepaid subscribers actually have access to the service. Speaking at the Oppenheimer Technology, Internet & Communications Conference, Verizon Wireless COO David Small disclosed that number – nearly 4 million – a small percentage of their subscribers for sure. This has been the first time Verizon has even given us a clue how many subscribers were able to take advantage of VoLTE…Verizon only has 22 smartphones that support the service, but that number continues to grow with each new smartphone release.
Small said they are pleased with the VoLTE performance it has seen so far and that Verizon engineers are closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis. VoLTE has taken half the time to reach the low drop rate of its legacy CDMA system. Small further claims that their customer care is receiving less calls from VoLTE customers, than non-VoLTE – citing that the HD Voice experience only occurs when both the caller and receiver have a VoLTE capable device. He added that Verizon is “going through a natural evolution” with VoLTE. Right now, a customer can go in on their device and opt in or out of VoLTE, but eventually that the phones out-of-the-box with have VoLTE enabled and that Verizon is working ‘aggressively’ to make that a reality. The final phase will be when Verizon can have CDMA radios taken completely out of the devices, but has no target date set for that.
Both Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile offer VoLTE on a nationwide basis, in fact, T-Mobile is boasting 8.4 million VoLTE customers already – up from 2 million at just the start of 2015. AT&T Mobility is still rolling out on a market-by-market basis in all of parts of 29 states, but could not say just how many customers were covered. US Cellular is planning on three VoLTE trail markets for launch later this year, but customers will not be able to take advantage of it until testing is complete. Sprint, bringing up the rear, as usual, said they will eventually launch VoLTE, but gave no timeframe. Small said that Verizon will refarm its network as more customers use VoLTE and deploy more of its “high-quality spectrum” where needed to maintain a consistent customer experience of 5-12 Mbps download speeds while on LTE.