LTE to cover 300 million POPs by end of 2014, LTE Advanced just a software upgrade away

AT&T expects that the holiday season may be the right time to launch its first device capable of using VoLTE. According to statements made by Krish Prabhu, president of AT&T Labs, the carrier expects that it can have a "VoLTE-compliant device" ready by the end of the year.

He went on to say that the carrier is working on the network side of VoLTE upgrades to enable the use of the new voice technology. Once completed, the move to VoLTE will enable HD voice calls as long as both parties are using a VoLTE device. Unfortunately those upgrades may take some time — AT&T plans to complete its initial rollout of nationwide LTE by the end of 2014, with a commercial launch of VoLTE in the same timeframe.

Speaking to the network as a whole, Prabhu said that AT&T is ready to begin upgrading its towers to LTE Advanced (Release 10). The upgrades are expected to go smoothly via a system a software patches, provided its network partners (primarily Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson) deliver on their promises of upgrade systems. Carrier aggregation technology, which lets carriers combine separate chunks spectrum for more bandwidth, is also on the way in the near future.

Source: Fierce Wireless


Reader comments

AT&T to launch first VoLTE-capable handset this year


Basically as it is if your phone is connected to LTE and you make a phone call the call goes over their 3G network. This lets the calls go over LTE so when the time comes they can remove their 3G network and have LTE as the new Edge

voLTE = Voice Over Long Term Evolution. When the time is right, you will see LTE only devices hit the market. Battery lives should go up since there will no longer be a 3G antenna and call quality should go up too. Everything will be data related instead of minutes. It will be interesting times.

Verizon and ATT are both planning this Volte service but everywhere along highways outside of major populous' on all carriers is 3g or less. Would like to know how the hell you make an emergency phone call on the side of a highway with volte since it doesn't seem likely the carriers will be building lte towers along every major highway at anytime soon outside populous', plus it would be a huge project to replace standard towers for lte.

Actually the carriers do or will cover highways between cities. VZW's stated goal has long been to cover the entire footprint of their 3G network with LTE by the end of 2013. ATT has a similar goal but I'm not sure what their timeframe is. It is more important for VZW because unlike ATT, VoLTE calls will not handoff to the 3G CDMA2000 network. LTE was designed for evolution of GSM networks, not CDMA2000. Therefore VZW must have nearly full LTE coverage before rolling out VoLTE to avoid complaints of dropped calls.

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Verizon and ATT are both planning on running 100% LTE networks in the near future. 3g/edge/1x and anything else that isn't LTE is a waste of frequency; once the tower upgrades are done and enough handsets run on LTE there will be no reason to keep anything around that's not LTE. For now, VoLTE will only be used where available. The reason you get 3G and not LTE in a given spot today is that they haven't pushed LTE to the best penetrating (lower) frequencies, but that will happen soon.

Voice Over LTE is just the carrier's way to charge you for what they won't allow you to do with what is already built into your phone.

Almost every Android phone has Internet Calling (VOIP) built in, but the carriers (AT&T foremost among them) won't let you use that capability except on WIFI. Now they want to sell it to you by the minute.

While my wife was traveling in Europe, we used CSipSimple to make internet calls for free. Quality was great, even when both ends were on HSPA.

What the hell are you talking about? I can use any VOIP app I want on my AT&T phone. And yes, I can use it over LTE, to get, essentially VOLTE. But, I'll have to pay for the extra POTS number and termination and there won't be any QOS. Where's the extra charge? All this does is move voice over to a different network so that AT&T can eventually move all their spectrum to LTE. When this happens, you won't even notice it.

Yup, since it will all be data, the 2GB caps will come in to play. I don't know how data intensive VOIP is, but if you make a lot of calls, it will be eating into your already limited data caps.

It is not data intensive at all. The higher quiality VOIP codecs take 64 kb/s each way. Add in packet header data and other data inefficiencies and we'll call it an even 160 kb/s = 20 kB/s = 1.2 MB/min = 72 MB/hr = about 1 GB for 14 hours. That is right. A gig of data will give you 840 minutes of high quality (better than a cell network) voice calls. Most carriers charge $10/GB.

Starting to realize why carriers are starting to push you onto unlimited talk plans that charge by data? Voice calls are a cheap high margin commodity. Kinda like 160 byte text messages that most people pay in the ballpark of $20 for the privilege of sending. Wanna do the math on that one? :)

Compression codecs allow you to further reduce the bandwidth required while reducing call quality by a barely noticeable amount. The G.711 codec is 64 kbps with a voice quality score of 4.1 out of 5. The G.729 codec is 8 kbps with a voice quality score of 3.92 out of 5. Quality of Service enhancements are what will make the difference here. Prioritizing the voice data, which is not delay tolerant, over the normal web traffic, which is delay tolerant, is what VoLTE will provide over using a VoIP app that is currently available for Android or iOS.

Yes and no. Your VOIP app isn't smart enough to handle roaming very gracefully. If you jump from one tower to the next and the handset IP changes, poof you need a new VOIP session since the call is now headed the wrong way. VoLTE is designed to work reliably on a cell network, VOIP is not (out of the box).

Vzw will have there's up also. But for vzw it eliminate CDMA.

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No one is sure. But if the phone isn't a volt then no. And I really can't see them getting rid of CDMA I mean what about dumb phones

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They won't be able to ditch CDMA for a LONG time. Killing a network is difficult and takes forever. Remember what a pain in the ass it was for Sprint to shut down iDEN, and they didn't have nearly the user base that Verizon's CDMA network has.

New Every Two goes a long way to taking care of that. Verizon's roadmap says CDMA will be gone by 2020 and LTE-only handsets (meaning LTE coverage will be equal or better than CDMA) will start in 2014. They will probably sell the last CDMA handset in 2015, and by 2017 every customer will be eligible for a free LTE phone (since LTE phones can be made much cheaper than CDMA ones).

you can make volte flip phones that have no other features, but knowing american carriers they will just phase them out all together to push their tiered price gouging data on more people.

Not without a software solution integrated into the device. VZW will be releasing VoLTE capable phones sometime next year. The devices they will be releasing next year will have hardware built in to send the voice traffic over the LTE network.

Here's a tinfoil hat thought; Is this another move to get away from flat cost plans (unlimited calls) and push voice usage over to higher cost, tiered data plans? If you add the bandwidth used by a voice over data system to your current data charges, I think you will see the overall cost of the use of smartphones rise again. Kind of like eliminating SD cards, and pushing increased mobile data usage through the use of cloud storage and streaming media.

I am very skeptical of any change in plan, even if the carriers say this will be better. It usually means better for THEM.

The way I understand it is they will still be able to differentiate between data and voice usage. Much like 3G now. I could be wrong but that is the way it has been explained to me. They would like to free up spectrum by dropping 3G and going VoLTE

That would be for CDMA2000 carriers (ie Sprint and VZW). ATT passes voice over (I think) UMTS where 3G is available or (I think) GPRS in 2G zones. The 3G network will be around for a while but I'm sure they would love to ditch 2G soon (relatively).

See my math above. ATT charges $40 for 450 minutes. They charge $10 per GB of data. 1 GB for $10 would get me over 800 minutes of highest quality VOIP.

I wish they charged me for data instead of gouging me for the antiquated circuit switched voice network. Once the data network is reliable enough VOIP is the way to go.

Geez, I can't reply to this because it mentions money! WTH, crappy spam filter!

Anyway. Verizon give me unlimited minutes, but that gig would cost me extra. So yeah, this would be good for Verizon, not me.

LTE technology is cheaper and easier to maintain over 3g cdma networks and look what happened, they pulled unlimited data and pushed in Tiered price gouging data plans and gave away free minutes instead of tiered minutes. The US is the most expensive in the world for data plans and network prices. We 3 x as much and more compared to asia and europe. The US needs a heavily regulated telecommunications industry, the carriers are just making up the rules as they go, with no stopping them from the FCC.

HD Voice is awesome. It is also referred to as G.722 protocol. It is crystal clear and almost like talking to someone in person. I've tried it with some VOIP providers using IP desk phones. I hope it is interoperable across different HD voice providers.

VoLTE will eventually equal the death of CDMA. All carriers will eventually be on GSM (LTE is more advanced version of GSM). I look forward to that day. SIM cards are so nice when switching between phones.

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