Besides the allure of high-speed data, the deployment of LTE brings with it other reasons to be excited about the future of cellular technology. One of the most promising opportunities LTE presents is letting carriers start moving voice service over to these 4G bands with voice-over-LTE, or VoLTE. Not only will that allow for higher quality voice calls, but eventually we’ll get to a point where carriers can switch-off old networks, just like they did with analog cellular, and free-up that spectrum for even more LTE goodness. LTE is all over the place now, so where’s VoLTE? The CEO of MetroPCS recently made a few comments about his company’s deployment of the system.
While carriers like Verizon and AT&T have been talking about VoLTE for 2013, MetroPCS has already gotten started. It first activated VoLTE in Texas, where it’s been trying it out in the Dallas area. The carrier reports that users are enjoying the higher-quality audio, but getting VoLTE going has been as simple as just flipping a switch. MetroPCS is discovering that its cellular base stations need to be reconfigured in order to more optimally handle and route these calls, and it sounds like it’s still working out the kinks. Ultimately, the carrier expect to figure things out and get similar VoLTE systems up-and-running in the rest of its LTE markets within four to six months.
We can’t say if the larger carriers will face similar challenges with their own VoLTE efforts, but it seems like the thing to do for the moment is to just remain patient, and hope that by this time next year, we’ve seen some substantial progress.