I've written about VoLTE in the past, which stands for "Voice over LTE." This means that instead of connecting to your carrier's voice service, the device converts the voice signal into a data service and uses the data network. There are several advantages to your smartphone shunting a voice call over LTE compared with using the voice network; one is that LTE does not carry voice data and so the device must drop down to either 3G or 2G networks. This by itself may not be terrible, depending on what you are otherwise doing with the device, but the difficulty is that current technology cannot seamlessly move to and from 4G and the older networks as it can with 2G to and from 3G networks. Your device must disconnect from the older generation network in order to bump itself up to the 4G network. Depending on the network and device, it will not do this if the data connection is live but instead will maintain the older generation connection. Another advantage is that VoLTE is more efficient at transferring data compared with 3G and especially 2G networks, which means that the device may use slightly less power. And because the LTE network has much greater capacity, it means that your handset may use a higher audio quality, which means we could see noticeably improved voice quality from our devices.
There are advantages for the carrier, too. Firstly, customer demand is for data rather than voice; LTE networks are far more efficient at handling data compared with older generation networks. Carriers would rather build out their LTE coverage to provide customers with faster data coverage. Transferring voice over LTE is far more efficient from the carrier perspective. Another advantage is that carrying Voice over LTE is a subset of VoIP technology, Voice over IP, which is a way of transferring voice calls over any Internet network system. This will include WiFi and this ultimately will give customers a better overall service, plus it enables all sorts of wonderful features that will come to light when we consider the IoT or Internet of Things. All sorts of devices will have an Internet connection in the coming months. And now, we're seeing that AT&T and Verizon are working together to enable cross-network VoLTE calls. This will be beneficial to both carriers for all the reasons I've discussed above and I suspect it's the start of many announcements between carriers across the world as they built-in interoperability between their networks.
I do need to remind readers that the AT&T and Verizon arrangement isn't in place yet: the announcement today is that the carrier engineers are working through requirements in a laboratory environment and haven't reached field tests of inter-carrier calls yet. There's no time frame confirmed yet so we don't know when it'll be ready. However, the announcement said that their cross-network VoLTE services won't stop at just HD Voice but will include "rich messaging and more." It'll be an interesting 2015; let's hope the two carriers get the service released quickly and smoothly once it's ready.