Print 29 comment(s) - last by OnyxNite.. on Aug 21 at 2:49 PM

VoLTE will enable higher quality, "HD Voice" calls

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is making its way to U.S. carriers, and Verizon Wireless has announced plans to launch the service during the fourth quarter of 2014 according to Fran Shammo, Chief Financial Officer for Verizon Communications.
Voice calls will be routed through Verizon’s existing LTE network, with a fallback to 3G in the absence of LTE availability. With its LTE network nearly complete in the U.S., Verizon Wireless is confident that its service to consumers won’t buckle under the pressure of handling both VoLTE calls and LTE data.
"For us, when we launch a new technology, we have to make sure our quality is strong because the CDMA network was so strong," said Shammo at an investor conference this week. "We don't go before we know it's ready."
According to Fierce Wireless, 55 percent of Verizon Wireless’ customers have LTE devices, but those customers account for 79 percent of all data traffic on its network.
The move to VoLTE not only brings with it higher quality “HD Voice” calls, but it will also allow Verizon Wireless to completely abandon its 3G CDMA network in the future. Handsets would likely also be cheaper for manufacturers to produce if they don’t have to worry about supporting legacy CDMA functionality.
However, we still have a ways to go before you have to worry about your smartphone becoming incompatible with Verizon Wireless’ network. The company doesn’t plan to introduce its first LTE-only phones until 1H 2016, and it will be longer still before its 3G CDMA network is shuttered for good.
In the mean time, new smartphones that support VoLTE (while still having 3G CDMA fallback) will be introduced over the coming months, and existing smartphones [with VoLTE hardware support] will receive software updates to enable the feature. But even with network, hardware, and software support, placing or receiving a VoLTE call whenever you want isn’t guaranteed [at least until the wireless carrier goes LTE-only]. Verizon Wireless wrote earlier this year:
For a customer to make or receive a VoLTE call, both parties must have VoLTE-enabled devices and be in an area where VoLTE is available.  
Verizon Wireless currently has 42 million customers that are using 3G-only smartphones, and they will all have to upgrade to VoLTE capable phones in the coming years if they want to continue to receive voice/data service.

Source: Fierce Wireless

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I'm sure
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2014 12:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
We'll get comments that this is out of greed or something to push people onto smart phones. That they shouldn't be allowed to phase out 3G CDMA phones.

Because businesses should be forced to sell a product or service that they no longer want to....

RE: I'm sure
By corduroygt on 8/12/2014 12:36:30 PM , Rating: 2
As long as they have CDMA towers that don't have LTE, they should not phase it out. But once every tower is converted, there is no need for it.

RE: I'm sure
By SigmundEXactos on 8/12/2014 12:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
Except that you can easily build a dumb phone with VoLTE -- nothing's stopping you.

LTE-only is the natural progression to the network technology upgrades in the past few years, and the lessons learned from the various GSM/CDMA/EVDO/UTMS/HSDPA upgrade/interoperability shenanigans, especially for Verizon/Sprint where CDMA/EVDO and LTE were not at all compatible.

RE: I'm sure
By ritualm on 8/13/2014 4:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
Except the state of LTE is such that you need lots of different amplifiers to cover every disparate band. Very few devices come with such compatibility for every LTE band in the world, and most of them are tablets.

Walk out of the frying pan, only to walk into a fryer.

RE: I'm sure
By amanojaku on 8/12/2014 1:18:58 PM , Rating: 3
I hope not. The article DOES point out that CMDA phone sales will cease long before CDMA tower service ends. Additionally, 55% of Verizon Wireless customers already own LTE phones, so phasing out CDMA phone sales is only natural. And it may make phones cheaper, smaller, more power efficient, blah, blah, since the CDMA chip will be left out. Other than tried-and-true reliability, there is no benefit to CDMA. No one should want it any more.

RE: I'm sure
By tayb on 8/12/2014 1:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
Verizon has accepted billions in tax breaks and subsidies to build out their networks. As far as I am concerned they can either return that money or do as the American public pleases.

RE: I'm sure
By GlobleWarmingisbunk on 8/12/2014 6:29:30 PM , Rating: 1
Verizon has accepted billions in tax breaks... As far as I am concerned they can either return that money or do as the American public pleases.

You do realize that a tax brake is not money from the government, all a tax brake does is let the company keep more of its own money. So Verizon does not owe the government, or the American People anything. If you don't like what they are doing than don't use Verizon.

RE: I'm sure
By Zak on 8/13/2014 8:04:10 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know what "tax brake" is but "tax break" is money that would have been paid to the govt in taxes, i.e. missed tax revenue for the govt and the public, so yeah same thing. I'm sure you realized that, but just wanted to be obtuse for no apparent reason.

RE: I'm sure
By tayb on 8/13/2014 9:01:47 AM , Rating: 2
There is no difference between the two things you are describing. Verizon owed the US government billions in taxes and the US government said "build out a fiber network and you can keep that money." Verizon kept the money and then didn't build out the fiber network.

As far as I am concerned Verizon should either pay those taxes, deliver the networks as promised, or forfeit control of the corporation over to the American public. Pick one.

RE: I'm sure
By GeekWithFire on 8/13/2014 9:33:10 AM , Rating: 2
While I'm sure you and I will continue to disagree on who actually owns the money in this situation (I personally believe it is the organization who actually built something...yes, they did build that.), a tax break is a business transaction. If the US government didn't have any stipulations preventing Verizon from making this business decision, they are not entitled to anything. This process is how every other business entity in the free market operations. Why should the US government operate any differently?

RE: I'm sure
By DanNeely on 8/12/2014 1:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
They're not allowed to turn off your current phones voice service without giving you a free replacement that doesn't affect your contract status in any way.

Since VZW has, IIRC committed to keeping its 2/3g networks online until 2021; it's a tossup if they'll be able to give holdouts a VoLTE flipphone or have to give a bottom end smartphone with data disabled (or billed at the insanely high prices they set 10 years ago when typical phone webpage was only 5 or 10k of data).

RE: I'm sure
By Flunk on 8/12/2014 4:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
It will be a long time, my father (and plenty of other older people) is still using a GSM handset (2G). His cell provider just phased out analog service last year.

RE: I'm sure
By DanNeely on 8/12/2014 4:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
Where does your father live, and who is his carrier. The major (all?) US carriers turned off analog around a decade ago. IIRC most other carriers globally did the same around then.

RE: I'm sure
By Omega215D on 8/13/2014 10:18:05 AM , Rating: 2
Verizon turned off analog aruond 2007/ 2008. At the time I had an Audiovox CDM-8900 which was a tri-band phone. I remember having it switch to analog a couple of times while riding out in rural areas in the northeast US.

There were still some hold outs in turning off the analog, some of which were roaming partners with Verizon back in the day. I think 2009 was the last time I heard of it.

RE: I'm sure
By Lord 666 on 8/12/2014 7:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
There are commercial fire alarms that have IP and 4g connectivity versus POTS lines for polling/alarms. When the 4g is too congested and/or the signal strength is too weak, it dials it down to 3g.

Well... that would be a huge disservice to public health and safety unless Verizon is retrofitting customers alarms or some other mechanism.

RE: I'm sure
By Cheesew1z69 on 8/12/2014 9:20:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well... that would be a huge disservice to public health and safety unless Verizon is retrofitting customers alarms or some other mechanism.
Unless Verizon provides those, it's not their obligation to change or retrofit anything.

Something fishy
By Salisme on 8/12/2014 5:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
With its LTE network nearly complete in the U.S., Verizon Wireless is confident that its service to consumers won’t buckle under the pressure of handling both VoLTE calls and LTE data.

But... they are capping high data users because towers are congested.... But now that magically can handle more data?

Which is it Verizon?

RE: Something fishy
By bug77 on 8/13/2014 5:16:35 AM , Rating: 2
There only one correct answer to that question and the answer is: you will pay more!

RE: Something fishy
By agentnathan009 on 8/13/2014 8:12:09 AM , Rating: 2
Currently Verizon's low band LTE (the RF frequency band they used when they began rolling out LTE back in 2009 time frame) is getting congested because it is a lower frequency and cannot yield the data throughput that many are demanding in high traffic areas. Verizon is expanding their LTE throughput by carrier aggregation with their new XLTE system (I am installing the equipment for this system right now in the Philly PA area) which is a fancy name for their high band LTE which offers roughly double the throughput of their low band system that is currently in place.

Low band equates to greater range and building penetration

High band (AWS 1710Mhz - 2150Mhz) Offers greater throughput as it has more on and off cycles due to higher frequency, but the trade off is less building penetration and less coverage area. This is offset somewhat by adding TMA's (Tower Mounted Amplifiers) to the XLTE system to allow for greater RX sensitivity.

All this is to say that as Verizon discontinues their old CDMA technology they can recycle their 850Mhz cellualar band (low band)and their 1900Mhz PCS band (high band) for additional LTE bandwidth or reserve it for 5G in the future.

AT&T uses high and low band GSM/UMTS for 3G voice and data as well as low band LTE for data.

Additionally, LTE is based on the GSM standard so voice over LTE is not an issue and should not take up considerable bandwidth. Each tower sector can handle 200 connected users, but the avialable data throughput has to be shared.

RE: Something fishy
By bug77 on 8/13/2014 8:20:00 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, another noob polluting the comments section with facts. Let's be gentle, he doesn't know any better.

Joking aside, welcome and thanks for the explanation.

RE: Something fishy
By Moishe on 8/15/2014 1:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
This is what I thought too.

Screw the "HD" voice and lower the data prices. We do need more data for cheaper. We do not need data bandwidth being wasted on HD voices.

By Souka on 8/12/2014 3:35:00 PM , Rating: 2
so away goes our unlimited talk minutes for many plans, even limited plans include quite a few hours per month, now it's all data

quite a few people have limited data plans on their smartphones...200mb/month for example, but unlimited talk minutes.

Now these people will be forced to use their data to talk.... and I imagine this may effect quite a few people.

Also, what about just simple flip-phones with voice an texting.... will these all have to be LTE-only and require a dataplan on top of their existing contract?

Just a thought

RE: data
By DanNeely on 8/12/2014 4:49:18 PM , Rating: 2
Has VZW said they're going to bill this as data anywhere or is that speculation on your part?

As for the people with flipphones, as I mentioned above; VZW is required to continue providing them voice service at the terms of their existing contract. If they can't be talked into upgrading VZW has to give them a new phone for free and without changing/extending/otherwise modifying their existing contract.

RE: data
By Philippine Mango on 8/12/2014 5:00:41 PM , Rating: 2
that's not how it works. Voice calling uses far less data than browsing the internet. Also the carriers will know the difference between data usage and phone usage so concerns about unlimited voice calling will be irrelevant. Tmobile offers unlimited data with Edge speeds, that right there is at least twice the data bandwidth compared with an HD Voice call. If tmobile today can offer unlimited data usage with edge speeds, having unlimited phone calling with a data rate of only 32kB/s will be trivial.

Expect LTE only phones to reduce the cost of cellphones even further as one of the most expensive costs of operating a network is the Circuit Switched part of the network. A cellphone call placed over LTE which has tremendous bandwidth would make phone calling stupid cheap.

Inevitable, but...
By bug77 on 8/12/2014 3:37:35 PM , Rating: 2
...I hope they find a way to keep LTE power in check by then. And by "they", I mean chipset manufacturers. Because right now, LTE is not the best thing that can happen to a battery.

RE: Inevitable, but...
By Omega215D on 8/13/2014 10:23:49 AM , Rating: 2
So far so good. The SnapDragon 801 chipset is good at managing power both in use and in standby. So I wouldn't worry too much in that time frame.

RE: Inevitable, but...
By bug77 on 8/13/2014 4:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it does. But try using 3G instead of LTE and see how much longer the battery will last.
Power usage is (and always will be) the price we pay for the additional bandwidth over 3G. I'm just hoping the gap gets as narrow as possible before we move entirely to LTE.

2g not 3g
By DanNeely on 8/12/2014 1:52:00 PM , Rating: 4
Going VoLTE will help VZW (and Sprint) kill their 2g voice networks. It won't have any impact on their ability to shut down their 3g networks. Unlike the rival GSM derived standards, CDMA 3g was never deployed with voice support (although IIRC it was an optional part of the standard); so VZW's current LTE phones have to fall back onto 2g when you make an ordinary voice calls.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if, unlike ATT/TMobile, VZW and Sprint don't end up killing their 3g networks off before their 2g one. AFAIK only the voice service is regulatorily protected to guarantee continuity of service. They're free to turn off the data network at any time; and since smart phone customers are more likely to upgrade their phones regularly the backlog of old devices will shrink much faster.

Existing Hardware Support?
By OnyxNite on 8/21/2014 2:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
"...and existing smartphones [with VoLTE hardware support] will receive software updates to enable the feature."

How does one know if their existing hardware supports VoLTE? Does every LTE device? How about every XLTE compatible device? I have a Droid Mini and it supports XLTE is it capable of being updated to VoLTE or does it not have the correct hardware? Is there some specific capability I should look for in the specs (a certain frequency/band or something?)

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