Apple iPhone 6 will support VoLTE, says Mavenir's CEO

During his company's second-quarter 2014 earnings call with analysts, Mavenir Systems' CEO Pardeep Kohli gave a couple of shout-outs to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), citing the importance of the vendor's support for operator-enabled voice over IP (VoIP) services in its upcoming products, including the iPhone 6, which Kohli said will support voice over LTE (VoLTE).

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Kohli referenced Apple when he cited several operators that have introduced Wi-Fi calling, including France's Orange, O2 in the UK and Rogers Wireless in Canada. Apple has said it will support Wi-Fi calling, also termed voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi), in iOS 8. Apple's confirmation "is a major development for the industry because that will significantly boost a number of compatible devices for Wi-Fi calling," Kohli said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) CMO Mike Sievert previously said that with Apple's support of Wi-Fi calling, more than 90 percent of all T-Mobile smartphones will include the feature. T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier that has so far confirmed it will support Wi-Fi calling for Apple's iPhone. The operator uses Mavenir's converged voice solution, introduced in 2011, to power its voice over Wi-Fi service.

Apple announced iOS 8 during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The iPhone 6 has not been officially introduced, but many Apple watchers expect an announcement in September. Though Apple said during the WWDC that iOS 8 will support Wi-Fi calling, GigaOM noted the vendor did not mention VoLTE support at that time.

However, Kohli said Apple has indicated that iOS 8, the expected operating system for the iPhone 6, will support VoLTE. "This will be the first Apple phone to support VoLTE, and its introduction this fall is expected to further the progress of VoLTE," Kohli noted.

Kohli subsequently clarified after the company's earnings call that he has no direct, insider information on Apple's forthcoming products, including the next iPhone.

FierceWirelessTech has reached out to Apple for comment regarding Kohli's remarks, though the company has not responded. Apple plays very close to the vest with iPhone design and even its close partners often profess not to know what is coming.

According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), there are 92 smartphone models, including operator and frequency variants, which already support VoLTE.

"The wave of VoLTE launches and announcements during the second quarter signals the increasing momentum in this next major phase of LTE network evolution. Along with the progress in the device ecosystem, the encouraging sign is that the VoLTE is on its way to become a mass-market service," Kohli said.

He noted numerous devices that are shipping can be activated remotely to support VoLTE once an operator's network is ready. "For example, T-Mobile recently made a software update available for Samsung Galaxy S5 to activate VoLTE service on devices that were sold prior to the VoLTE launch in May," Kohli said.

The GSA reports there are 66 operators in 35 countries investing in VoLTE studies, trials or deployments, including 10 operators in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States that have commercially launched HD voice service using VoLTE.

Mavenir countes14 Tier 1 VoLTE customers. It provided the IMS core network and voice solution for MetroPCS, when it launched VoLTE in August 2012. T-Mobile, which subsequently acquired MetroPCS, is also using Mavenir's IMS core and voice solution in its VoLTE service, which launched May 22 and is available in15 markets, Kohli said.

For more:
- see this Seeking Alpha transcript (sub. req.)
- see this GSA release

Related articles:
Rumor mill: Sprint laying groundwork for mid-2015 VoLTE launch
Mavenir exec: Carriers could use VoLTE to deliver voice services on tablets, TVs
T-Mobile stands alone, for now, in pledge to offer iPhone Wi-Fi calling
Verizon's IP voice interconnection deals with Sprint and T-Mobile hint at VoLTE roaming
T-Mobile launches VoLTE in Seattle, promises more markets this year

Article updated Aug. 1 with clarifications from Kohli.

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