Verizon Wireless is preparing to offer its customers a better sounding voice network, thanks to the power of 4G.
CNN reports that Verizon will be showing off its new 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) voice network at next week’s Mobile World Congress. This will allow voice calls to take place over the Internet, rather than using the existing CDMA voice network.
The technology, which is currently known as VoLTE (Voice Over LTE), is basically like VoIP for home or business phones, but it takes place on a mobile network.
Verizon started rolling out its 4G data network back in December and plans on introducing a number of 4G or 4G-upgradable devices by the first half of the year.
Most of those devices, however, will only use 4G for data connections. This can include video chat over Skype, sending and receiving e-mails and playing back video. However, it does not include standard voice calls. With VoLTE, that will change — certain 4G phones will gain the ability to make voice calls over the 4G data network rather than using the older CDMA network.
One of the devices that will benefit from VoLTE is the LG Revolution 4G. The smartphone won’t ship with VoLTE enabled, but future updates will give the phone the ability to make 4G voice calls. If a user drops into an area without 4G coverage, calls will be made over the older CDMA network as expected.
VoLTE will finally allow Verizon to give its users the ability to send data and make phone calls simultaneously.
AT&T will be rolling out its LTE strategy later this year but the company hasn’t made any announcements about its plans for Voice Over LTE.
One Step Closer to Data-Only Phone Plans
At the Mobile World Congress last year, Verizon announced that it was partnering with Skype
to bring the service to various Verizon smartphones. At CES last month, Verizon and Skype took that partnership one step further and announced that 4G video Skype calls were planned for future Verizon 4G devices.
Last year, I remarked that by partnering with Skype, Verizon was “indicating that the future of the company’s mobile business lies with data services.” Twelve months later this is even more clear.
Traditional voice service has become a commodity, whereas data — especially fast and reliable data — can be sold at a premium. By making plans to place its voice network on top of its data network, Verizon is not only doing its part to soften the impact would-be competitors like Skype might have on its bottom line, it will also have new selling points like “clearer calls” and “simultaneous voice and data” that can be used to sell more expensive monthly data packages.
Of course, Verizon’s CDMA voice network won’t be disappearing any time soon. VoLTE service might not become available until next year (though certain phones will be upgrade ready) and at least right now, sending voice calls over LTE is more expensive than just using the existing CDMA technology. This announcement is merely the first step in a new phase of the overall 4G transition.