Apple iPhone 6 with VoLTE: Rumors heating up

The status of voice over LTE (VoLTE) in the iPhone 6 remains unsettled, but there are plenty of signs that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is preparing to include the technology in upcoming devices, if not now then sometime in the near future.

LightReading dug up a number of Apple job openings that indicated that the Cupertino, Calif., company is moving aggressively to support VoLTE and other voice-over-IP (VoIP) technologies in future iOS products. For example, a job posting put up on the Apple website Aug. 14 seeks a cellular-systems protocol engineer "to help develop our next generation of iOS products." Qualifications for the job include having at least three years of hands-on experience with wireless technologies, including VoLTE and IMS.

Apple is also seeking an iOS wireless-communication-software engineer with experience in session-initial protocol (SIP), real-time transport protocol (RTP) and voice over IP (VoIP)-related protocols. SIP and RTP play key roles in VoLTE calling.

Further, the company wants to hire a senior baseband engineer to work on audio technologies, including the adaptive multi-rate wideband (AMR-WB) speech compression codec, which can be used for HD Voice along with VoLTE.

Apple has only said it will support Wi-Fi calling, also termed voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi), in iOS 8, its latest operating system, which is expected to be used in the iPhone 6. However, the company has not said anything about supporting VoLTE in iOS 8, which was unveiled in June. The iPhone 6 is widely expected to be unveiled by Apple on Sept. 9.

Gadget Insiders ignited more speculation earlier this month by reporting on rumors that the iPhone 6 will include VoLTE support but only in a variant designed for Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ).

Earlier this month, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said during an investor conference that Verizon Wireless will launch VoLTE in the fourth quarter. V has said previously that when it launches the service the company will offer a "robust line" of VoLTE-capable smartphones.

Gadget Insiders suggested that even if the iPhone 6 rolls out minus active VoLTE support, a subsequent over-the-air software update delivered over Verizon's network might enable the functionality in the device.

Yet with AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) already deploying VoLTE, it seems odd that Apple would only support the technology in a Verizon variant of the new iPhone. T-Mobile US recently said it covers 200 million POPs with VoLTE, and AT&T has launched VoLTE in some markets in the Midwest. Sprint (NYSE: S) has not provided a timetable for when it will launch VoLTE, though there are rumors it may do so in the first half of 2015.

Pardeep Kohli, CEO of VoLTE specialist Mavenir Systems, also said during his company's second-quarter earnings call that the iPhone 6 will support VoLTE. But he later clarified to FierceWirelessTech that he has no direct, insider information regarding Apple's forthcoming products, including the next iPhone.

Meanwhile, a writer at ZDnet this week threw cold water on the heated rumor that the iPhone 6 will support VoLTE, suggesting that VoLTE will remain for the time being one feature that is available on some Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android devices but not the iPhone, because "Apple tends to lag a generation behind in wireless technologies."

He also predicted that Apple will once again not include near-field communications (NFC) or infrared technology for remote-control features on the newest iPhone.

For more:
- see this LightReading article
- see this Apple job posting, this posting and this posting  
- see this Gadget Insiders article
- see this ZDnet article

Related articles:
Report: AT&T's VoLTE-based HD Voice exceeds 3G voice, Skype in terms of quality
Verizon to launch VoLTE in Q4, but delays first LTE-only phones to 2016
Report: Apple to unveil iPhone 6 on Sept. 9
Apple iPhone 6 will support VoLTE, says Mavenir's CEO