VoLTE, also known as voice over LTE, is the next evolution of cellular networks being rolled out by carriers across the country. It's capable of providing customers of the networks who have already deployed it not only faster data speeds but a more reliable network and clearer voice. U.S. Cellular states that despite these benefits to the network upgrade, they're in no rush to deploy VoLTE to their network towers and roll it out to customers. There is a reason behind it, though, as U.S. Cellular CEO Kenneth Meyers believes that CDMA carriers have more of a tough time with VoLTE technology.
According to Meyers, there isn't an issue with GSM carriers like T-Mobile who have been aggressive and fast with their strategy to deploy VoLTE to as much of their coverage area as they can. With CDMA, it's different, as there's a "VoLTE gap" that Meyers says they have noticed as they began testing VoLTE technology in 2015. With no hasty plans to get VoLTE up and running, where does that leave U.S. Cellular on approaching ways to find a solution? At the moment, U.S. Cellular engineers are working to fix the issues that are caused by this gap, attempting to solve the problem by migrating the equipment gear further up the towers to the top. Meyers says that engineers are testing out other possible solutions and strategies as well, although he didn't mention what those strategies were.
Although Meyers didn't go into too much detail, the issue, or gap, comes from trying to overlay voice over LTE technology on top of the CDMA technology that U.S. Cellular's network is built with. U.S. Cellular is "proceeding with caution," says Meyers, because they want customers to experience great service without any loss or degradation of quality when they finally flip the switch and turn VoLTE on for their subscribers. In addition to working on these fixes before they begin the VoLTE deployment, U.S. Cellular also plans to deploy the technology changes slowly and over time, a move they're planning to implement so that their quarterly capex budget doesn't get too stressed. This news about U.S. Cellular's VoLTE plans follows up on the results of their lower-than-expected Q1 2016 earnings.