U.S. Carriers' Rough Road for Voice over LTE Deployment

By Doug Mohney December 05, 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, only a few small U.S. carriers have deployed Voice over LTE (VoLTE) as a commercial service. Both AT&T and Verizon hinted at and spoke of various time frames for VoLTE deployments, but neither carrier has launched service yet. AT&T still has until the end of the year before its latest public pronouncements expire, but it seems unlikely the carrier would make a big promotional push of a brand new service in the middle of the holiday season.

Worldwide, there are 244 commercially launched (i.e. collecting money) LTE networks in 92 countries, according to the December 5, 2013 market summary report just issued by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. 

Only a handful have deployed VoLTE, with the most significant launch occurring in South Korea in 2012, with LG, SK, and KT all offering the service. Azercell in Azerbaijan and O2 Germany can be added to the short list, along with Evolve Broadband serving 13 counties in Texas. It should be noted Evolve is offering Android tablets for its VoLTE offering, so it isn't clear if this a "true handset" type of service wired into IMS or an over-the-top soft client experience with no quality of service (QoS).

AT&T was expected to turn up VoLTE by the end of 2013, according to press reports starting from January through the middle of the year. By October, the tune being fed to the media was AT&T "might" launch its first VoLTE-capable handset this year -- whatever "VoLTE-compliant" is defined as this week.  VoLTE service is now expected to appear in 2014.

Verizon's track record in waiving the VoLTE promise dates back a couple of years at this point. Way back at Mobile World Congress 2011, Verizon Wireless said it would be introducing VoLTE in late 2012. By early 2012, reports had slipped back deployment to early 2013. And by late 2012, the date had moved "to the right" to 2014.

More recently, Verizon indicated it might offer a VoLTE-compatible handset (again, what does that mean, precisely) for the 2013 holiday shopping season. Service is still expected to be turned up in 2014, but the delays put the carrier in a race with AT&T for bragging rights of network and technical superiority.

Sprint and T-Mobile may or may not deploy VoLTE next year. Sprint's various tribulations in rolling out HD voice as a part of its Qualcomm 1X Advanced CDMA upgrades -- a year-long saga -- make me skeptical of reports indicating it will have VoLTE out in 2014. T-Mobile is, well, T-Mobile and it is happy to wreak havoc with the status quo, so I suspect it may be working on a surprise or two when it finally deploys VoLTE.




Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Contributing Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Was the Yahoo Hack State-Sponsored? Unlikely Says Cyber Expert

By: Gerald Baldino    9/28/2016

Last week, Yahoo confirmed at least 500 million user accounts were compromised by a data breach in 2014. The attack was the largest security breach ev…

Read More

Will Disney Make Twitter the Happiest Social Media on Earth?

By: Alicia Young    9/26/2016

To get back on their feet, Twitter is reportedly seeking an acquisition deal that would value them at $30 billion. There are a few contenders already,…

Read More

500M Yahoo! Users Impacted by Hack; What It Says About Password Protection

By: Paula Bernier    9/23/2016

Yahoo! is facing a lot of challenges lately. Add to the heap the breach - which the company confirmed today - that has affected 500 million Yahoo! acc…

Read More

From Robotic Friends to Flying Cars: Looking Ahead to 2025

By: Rob Enderle    9/22/2016

I'm at the IBMEdge conference this week, and one of the topics that came up at lunch today was how robotics are going to dramatically change how and w…

Read More

Windows 10: Is it Worth the Update?

By: Alicia Young    9/22/2016

Last summer, Microsoft shook up their Windows design with the release of Windows 10. They offered the update to users for free for a year, giving ever…

Read More