Verizon says cost is not behind move to VoLTE

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BARCELONA, Spain--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is planning to commercially launch voice over LTE in 2012 and is touting the advantages of moving to the GSMA's VoLTE standard at this week's Mobile World Congress conference.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Verizon Communications CTO Tony Melone said that the reason the company is moving from CDMA EVDO voice to VoLTE is not driven by cost but because of the benefits that VoLTE offers such as providing enhanced call quality and the ability to conduct a simultaneous voice and data session--a capability that is currently not available on the operator's CDMA network. However, Melone added that when Verizon launches its upcoming LTE smartphone, which provides voice service using the EVDO network with LTE data, users will be able to conduct simultaneous voice and data sessions. Verizon has promised to have an LTE smartphone available sometime in the first half of the year.

Melone added that the company will eventually refarm the spectrum being used to provide EVDO service and use that spectrum for LTE or other technologies. 

Verizon has not said how much it will charge for its VoLTE service nor has it said what amount it will charge customers who access data from an LTE smartphone. Melone declined to comment on LTE data  pricing for smartphones.

Verizon Wireless, the GSMA and several vendors such as Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Alcatel Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU), LG and Samsung are using the Mobile World Congress conference as a showcase for VoLTE, providing live demonstrations of the technology using LTE smartphones. Melone said that the goal of the demonstrations is to show the growing momentum for VoLTE. The GSMA and its partners are hosting an interoperability test event in September, which will be coordinated by the MSF, an industry group that develops test specifications for the industry. The event will be hosted by Vodafone and China Mobile at Vodafone's test center in Dusseldorf and China Mobile's research lab in Beijing.

At the 2010 Mobile World Congress, the GSMA launched its VoLTE initiative to develop a specification for delivering voice calls over LTE networks. Supporters of VoLTE include more than 40 companies including operators such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless and manufacturers and equipment vendors such as Acme Packet, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Motorola (NYSE:MOT). 

For more:
- see this Ericsson and Verizon VoLTE release
- see this GSMA release

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