HD Voice: AT&T, Sprint promise it this year, but Verizon targets late 2013, early 2014
AT&T (NYSE:T) reaffirmed its plans to launch HD Voice service on its LTE network this year, but other Tier 1 carriers are not rushing to embrace the technology. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), for example, will not push HD Voice through its Voice over LTE technology until late in 2013 or early 2014.
Separately, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) spokeswoman Kelly Schlageter told FierceWireless that the carrier expects to launch HD Voice "commercially in the next few months. It will not roll out nationwide right away, rather it will roll out market by market over a period of time."
Sprint's HD Voice launch represents a slight delay from the carrier's previous plans. Sprint launched the HTC Evo 4G LTE with HD Voice last year, and at the time promised to offer nationwide HD voice capability beginning in late 2012.
"HD Voice is part of our Voice over LTE strategy," said Kris Rinne, executive vice president of network technologies at AT&T Labs, in comments at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit. In January AT&T confirmed it would launch HD Voice through Voice over LTE technology sometime this year.
T-Mobile USA launched HD Voice earlier this year across its entire HSPA network. The carrier said the service is currently available on compatible handsets like the HTC One S, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Astound and Samsung Galaxy S III. And T-Mobile's iPhone 5 will launch with HD Voice later this month.
Almost all commercial VoLTE launches worldwide are expected to eventually support HD Voice, which produces higher call quality and reduces background noise.
Verizon spokesman Tom Pica said Verizon will first launch VoLTE with Rich Communication Service technology, and then HD Voice thereafter. He told FierceWireless that "some time later in 2013 or 2014, we'll be ready to offer that (HD Voice) to customers who choose it as the only voice solution on the device."
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