A couple weeks back, we were talking about the idea of smartphones that dropped all their 2G/3G radios in favor of going 4G-only, relying on LTE for everything from voice to data. While such an arrangement could offer some very real benefits, it sounded like we were still pretty far off, and hearing about Verizon’s progress towards thatgoal, it was looking like we still might have another two years to wait. One of the stepping stones along the way, before losing the 2G/3G hardware, would be transitioning existing services over to LTE, and for years now we’ve been waiting to see voice traffic routed on 4G networks as VoLTE. While Verizon had been taking its sweet time, the carrier’s finally ready to take the big plunge, and today announces the coming launch of nationwide VoLTE.
Verizon brands this all as “Advanced Calling 1.0,” and beyond voice over LTE, which the carrier’s calling “HD Voice,” it will also consist of support for video calls. This all goes live “in the coming weeks,” so long as you have a compatible Verizon smartphone – many will need software updates before they’re ready to operate, which again, Verizon says should be arriving shortly.
Like any other new technology, this will take a while to catch on; one of the biggest issues is how both ends of a call need to have VoLTE support to enjoy the higher audio quality, so if you’ve got a VoLTE phone and some of your friends don’t, you’re all going to be missing out. We’re also still looking at a distinction between voice minutes and data for billing purposes, even as the packets on mobile networks become further intertwined. Will that, too, change one day? We’re still in the early days of this transition, and while it may be too soon to predict all the details, VoLTE is where everyone’s headed, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on how its implementations mature.