Voice Over LTE is the next step in LTE cellular technology. VoLTE allows carriers to use existing LTE networks to route voice calls over their data networks. The approach is more efficient than current cellular voice technology and allows carriers to bring better quality voice calls to subscribers.
Verizon is planning on beginning their VoLTE roll out by the middle of 2014, according to their CFO Fran Shammo. The CFO had a conversation with Oppenheimer Technology, Internet and Communications Conference that Droid Life has posted on their site. In the talk, Shammo provides details on Verizon's road map for VoLTE, devices that will run on the VoLTE network, and what the new technology could do to the cost of future smartphones.
Verizon is planning on releasing their first VoLTE capable handset before the end of this year. It won't work on the VoLTE network right away, though. At first it will use the existing LTE and 3G networks that Verizon has in place. Shammo did confirm that Verizon is planning to have their VoLTE network up and running by mid-2014, and by then we should have several devices that support the new technology. Once the quality of VoLTE voice calls in on par with current voice calls over their 3G network, Shammo says they can confidently begin commercial roll out.
One of the issues they have to work through is VoLTE to CDMA handoffs. The two technologies don't like to talk to each other. VoLTE is not backwards compatible with the CDMA technology. That means that if you are on a VoLTE phone call and leave the VoLTE coverage area, your call will drop. It can't fall back to the CDMA network. Verizon's plan is to have LTE-only phones available by the end of 2014. Verizon's LTE rollout is complete, so they can begin the plan to phase out their CDMA network. This process will not be completed quickly, but eventually Verizon customers will have LTE-only devices that take full advantage of HD voice calls, video calls and video voicemail, as well as the high-speed LTE data that we have now.
Shammo also mentioned the cost of phones and phone subsidies decreasing with the move to LTE-only devices. Once we get to the point that phones don't require CDMA and LTE radios, manufacturers can streamline manufacturing processes. This drop in device cost may translate as a decrease in cost to consumers. Verizon, and other carriers, could simply pocket the increased margins as profit. Either way, the VoLTE rollout is exciting, but cheaper phones would be fantastic as well.
You can head on over to Droid Life to listen to the full Shammo talk. Are you a Verizon customer who is excited about VoLTE? Does VoLTE make you think about switching to Big Red?