Verizon Wireless, America's largest carrier, today announced that they are enabling HD Voice for prepaid customers. Verizon's HD Voice service is the name given to Verizon's VoIP technology that can route calls over either a 4G LTE data network (a technology known as VoLTE) or a Wi-Fi network. In addition to handling calls over a data connection, Verizon uses a higher bitrate, which is where the "HD" comes from: calls are noticeably clearer and "brighter" to our ears. It makes for a much improved calling experience although Verizon notes that both the caller and receiver need to be connected to the Verizon HD Voice network in order to benefit from the technology.
VoLTE is an important technology to the mobile telecommunications network as it is a more efficient use of spectrum compared with handling a call over a traditional cellular network. 4G LTE cannot support voice calling and in the absence of VoLTE technology, the handset will drop to either a 2G or 3G network to handle the call. Once the voice call has finished, the device will migrate the connection back up to a 4G LTE service as soon as it is able to. However, unlike the relatively seamless migration from 2G to 3G and back down again, switching to a 4G LTE connection requires the radio to temporarily disconnect from the network and reconnect on the LTE service. Enabling calling over a Wi-Fi network effectively improves network capacity and coverage, as even though Verizon have a comprehensive coast to coast coverage map, there are still areas of limited or no service.
In order to access HD Calling, prepaid customers will need to head into their My Verizon portfolio to add in the service at no charge. Calls are billed in the same way as normal calls. In addition to superior voice quality and handling calls over LTE and Wi-Fi, HD Voice enables one or two way video calling and six-way conference calling. Customers do need a compatible device to access these services and Verizon notes that some VoLTE-capable devices do not support video calling, and Wi-Fi calling also requires a compatible device. Some of America's other carriers are already using VoLTE technology, with T-Mobile US routing 57% of voice calls via VoLTE routes. AT&T is also rolling out VoLTE technology across its network, and we've also seen AT&T and Verizon cooperating to enable cross-network VoLTE services.
UPDATE: Scott Charlston, a spokesperson at Verizon Wireless, contacted us to explain that Verizon's HD Voice service has not yet arrived with pre-pay customers. The source webpage, which has since been removed, was posted in error and HD Voice won't be arriving until early fall. We will let you know when the service goes live, and thanks to Verizon for reaching out to let us know the service isn't yet available.