Rumor Mill: AT&T to launch VoLTE on May 23 in Chicago, Minneapolis

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AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) is primed to launch Voice over LTE service in two markets, Chicago and Minneapolis, on May 23, likely becoming the first Tier 1 carrier to do so, according to Engadget.

att padfone x asus

AT&T has said it will launch the PadFone X with VoLTE.

The blog, citing unnamed sources, said that details on the VoLTE deployments are still scarce but that AT&T is testing VoLTE in a limited number of markets. "We're wrapping up our initial VoLTE market trials and our initial markets will be VoLTE ready this year," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told FierceWireless in response to questions about the report.

AT&T is expected to roll out HD Voice alongside VoLTE, but has delayed its VoLTE rollout from its initial plans to launch VoLTE by the end of 2013. Thus far, AT&T has not provided a specific VoLTE target date, but it is working to seed the market with VoLTE-capable devices, such as the PadFone X from Asus.

As Engadget notes, the PadFone X was announced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show with support for VoLTE and LTE Advanced features such as carrier aggregation. The report indicated the device is likely going to go on sale soon after May 23 if not on that date. Other AT&T smartphones could potentially get support for VoLTE via an over-the-air update.

The benefits to deploying VoLTE and HD Voice include improved voice quality and more efficient use of spectrum. VoLTE is also likely going to lead to the introduction of new native calling features such as video calling that could help carriers catch up to services provided by over-the-top players.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) recently confirmed that it expects to introduce VoLTE this year and will simultaneously roll out HD Voice using the W-AMR speech compression algorithm. Verizon spokeswoman Debi Lewis told FierceWirelessTech that the carrier will launch VoLTE sometime in 2014. She declined to confirm or deny a report from Credit Suisse analyst Joseph Mastrogiovanni that VoLTE will launch in the second half of the year, but she acknowledged that Verizon is focused on making sure VoLTE technology is fully ready before commercially launching it.

"This is complicated technology. We like to test, make sure everything's good before we do any kind of rollout. And 2014 is what we're focused on," Lewis said.

Lewis said that the flavor of HD Voice Verizon intends to introduce alongside VoLTE service will be based upon the Adaptive Multi Rate Wideband (W-AMR) speech compression algorithm. W-AMR was standardized in 3GPP Release 5, and the first service launch using the technology occurred in 2009.

Sprint (NYSE: S) introduced EVRC-NW HD Voice about two years ago on the HTC Evo 4G LTE smartphone. Earlier this week Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced that HD Voice is now available over its CDMA network in 100 Sprint markets and will expand nationwide in mid-summer. The operator intends to have some 20 million HD Voice-capable devices in use by its customer base by the end of 2014. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) turned up W-AMR HD Voice on HSPA in January 2013.

For more:
- see this Engadget article

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