VoLTE gains momentum with AT&T Mobility update

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Carrier claims VoLTE coverage across 17 states

AT&T Mobility re-invigorated its voice over LTE position, updating its deployment plans that should see the carrier attain equal footing with rivals in the VoLTE race.

The carrier said it’s supporting VoLTE calls across parts of 17 states and the District of Columbia, with plans to expand the service reach into 2015. AT&T Mobility initially announced its VoLTE rollout in mid-May, beating Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US to the punch. That initial launch included supporting services across portions of four states.

However, since the initial launch AT&T Mobility has been quiet on the subject, except for an announcement last month that it plans to work with Verizon Wireless to allow their respective customers to conduct VoLTE calls between their two networks. At the same time, Verizon Wireless tapped into the recent launch of Apple’s iPhone 6 devices for the nationwide launch of its commercial VoLTE service, and T-Mobile US has moved to expand its service since its launch just a week after AT&T Mobility hit the market.

AT&T Mobility noted that its internal testing has shown “strong” VoLTE performance across its network, with testing showing “an average of better than 99% in both” placing a VoLTE call and staying connected to the VoLTE network during a call.

“While these are just early, internal measurements, we’re encouraged to see the network performing so well,” the carrier explained. “We are committed to delivering an outstanding customer experience with our VoLTE rollout, and will continue to optimize, test and expand our VoLTE coverage throughout 2015.”

As part of that expansion, AT&T Mobility said it expects to see more VoLTE-enabled devices moving forward. The carrier launched VoLTE services that were only supported by the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

The move to VoLTE will allow wireless carriers to transmit voice traffic more efficiently and eventually shutter legacy 2G and 3G networks that are currently burdened with carrying all voice traffic and a good portion of data traffic. Analysts noted in an RCR Wireless News report last year that carriers could achieve up to 40% more spectral efficiency running voice traffic over their LTE networks compared with legacy systems. A recent report from Newfield Wireless found the recent iPhone 6 launch resulted in an increase in VoLTE calls at the expense of calls placed across legacy 2G and 3G networks.

In addition to the network efficiencies, AT&T Mobility cited the ability to offer higher audio quality through HD Voice, which is designed to produce “more natural sounding audio by extending the frequency range of the audio signals, resulting in remarkably clearer calls.”

Sprint is so far the only nationwide operator to not officially announce VoLTE plans, focusing instead on CDMA2000 1x-Advanced, HD Voice and voice-over-Wi-Fi technologies.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”