AT&T's VoLTE efforts still in the lab

AT&T (NYSE:T) is still planning to roll out VoLTE this year, and it is also still banking on widespread small cell deployments to help it fill LTE coverage gaps, said a top executive for the carrier.

VoLTE/HD Voice trials have not graduated from the lab to real-world deployments, but they hold promise, John Donovan, AT&T senior executive vice president of technology and network operations, told TechnoBuffalo.

He said the operator still intends to run VoLTE trials this year with an eye toward targeted deployments before year's end. "We have promising trials so far in the lab, but we're not satisfied to deploy until we find the network performs equally well to what we have out there today," he said.

AT&T has trailed rival Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) in rolling out LTE but recently topped 400 markets and more than 240 million POPs with its LTE coverage. Donovan explained that AT&T's LTE rollout was planned around circuit-switch fallback (CSFB) technology, which took time to perfect.

The AT&T exec also addressed AT&T's push to deploy 40,000 more small cells under Project Velocity IP (VIP) and continue its aggressive Wi-Fi deployment in order to fill gaps in its LTE coverage.

He said AT&T can often perform antenna tilts on a tower or conduct other optimization of an existing macro cell site to fill a service gap. If those options do not work, the operator will turn to small cells. If small cells are for some reason unsuitable, AT&T will then look to a macro cell solution, but those can wallow for months or years in complicated local zoning processes.

In an "acute situation," the operator might bring in a cell on wheels (COW), Donovan said. In fact, the operator did just that earlier this week, when it used a cell site on light truck (COLT) places behind the town hall in Estes Park, Colo., to provide mobile coverage to emergency responders and those allowed within the flooded Colorado town.

For more:
- see this TechnoBuffalo article

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