U.S. mobile operator Verizon Wireless has announced the rollout of voice services over its LTE network nationwide. Billed as Advanced Calling 1.0, the services will start reaching customers in “the coming weeks,” Verizon stated. The operator’s VoLTE service will enable HD voice calls and video calling. In order to use the service, customers will have to have compatible devices (with a software update) and opt in on their mobile accounts. Both parties to a call will need to be on the Verizon 4G network in order for the VoLTE service to work. Verizon said customers will be able to view which of the contacts in their contact lists are available for video calls and will be able to switch between voice and video during a call. The service will become available gradually as more mobile devices are updated with new software to support VoLTE.
Verizon’s long-promised VoLTE service appears finally to be a reality, and when it becomes fully available it will place the operator—which is number-one in the country in terms of number of subscribers—on par with AT&T and T-Mobile, which both launched VoLTE services in May. Actually, it should place Verizon ahead of the two competitors, because their services have so far been available only in limited markets, not nationwide (though AT&T offers wider availability than T-Mobile). As for VoLTE itself (which converts voice signals into data packages that are then sent over an operator’s high-speed cellular data network), it appears to be the wave of the future for two main reasons: From a customer point of view, it offers faster call completion; video calls that are native to the phone, not achieved through third-party OTT accounts; and HD voice calls of appreciably higher quality than those made via CDMA networks. For operators, VoLTE promises greater efficiency, presaging a day when CDMA is phased out and all network traffic, voice and data alike, travels over one integrated LTE network. Verizon was probably wise to wait until its network was ready to deliver the desired quality level before launching VoLTE.
The restriction on devices is a potential stumbling block for Verizon’s new service, so the more devices it makes compatible the better. Interestingly, the launch will be happening just as Apple releases its new iPhone 6 and iOS 8. While Verizon has not said whether or not the iPhone will be compatible with its VoLTE, Apple has indicated that VoLTE was one of the features under consideration for inclusion in iOS 8.