Verizon Wireless recently announced that it has enabled VoLTE (Voice over LTE) for its wireless subscribers with the introduction Advanced Calling 1.0. The VoLTE service is available across its nationwide network on select smartphones.
Advanced Calling 1.0 supports both HD Voice and Video Calling, and the two options are integrated with 4G LTE-compatible smartphones. For example, the contact list on the phone also shows a video camera icon next to the name, displaying who can receive a video call, and a tap or two on the phone starts the call so users can speak to friends and family face-to-face. Video calls can also be switched to a voice-only call with a tap on the phone.
The audio portion of a Video Call is delivered in HD Voice. The service also supports simultaneous voice and 4G LTE data along with 6-way conference calls. Because the technology is new, Verizon is careful to explain the limitations. For instance, HD Voice and Video Calling work only when both people are in the Verizon 4G LTE coverage area and are using VoLTE-enabled smartphones from Verizon. Consequently, calls between a VoLTE-enabled phone made to landlines, other carrier networks, or phones that do not support VoLTE will use the existing voice network. To enable VoLTE calling on Advanced Calling 1.0, customers have to remove the ringback tone and caller ID features from their phones.
Initially, calls can’t be transferred between the VoLTE and 3G voice networks, so when leaving VoLTE network, VoLTE-initiated calls will be dropped. Customers have the option to disable VoLTE calling if this limitation is problematic and, over the long term, technology will support roaming between the two voice networks.
HD Voice calls are billed as standard voice minutes, but video calls will be billed as data usage with a typical one-minute video call consuming about 6 to 8 MB of data. Where known Wi-Fi access is available, the video call will hand off to a Wi-Fi access point.
Our observations: We’ve discussed the fact that VoLTE is a natural part of transitioning today’s legacy voice networks to VoIP, and the limitations and restrictions Verizon Wireless has disclosed are part of the growing pains associated with any next-generation technology. However, in the long term, the cost benefits of VoLTE to carriers and the feature benefits to users will make early adopter annoyances all worthwhile.