Sprint working with Google to enable certain Pixel features next year: COO

Günther Ottendorfer (Sprint)
Sprint’s Günther Ottendorfer returned for another AMA on Reddit on Dec. 16. (Image: Sprint)

Sprint’s Günther Ottendorfer returned to Reddit on Friday for another “ask me anything” session, spilling the beans on work it’s doing with Google to improve how the Pixel smartphone works on Sprint’s network and once again fielding questions about Sprint’s plans for VoLTE.

Asked by a Reddit user about specific Google Pixel features like Wi-Fi calling/SMS/MMS/RCS that are supported by T-Mobile and Verizon but not Sprint, Ottendorfer said the operator is well aware of what’s missing and “we are working to find solutions. Not all phones can support our WiFi Calling service. BYOD devices often don’t have the specific firmware and/or software support for all of our service offerings.” The Pixel and Nexus line of devices fall into that category, he said.

“We are working with Google to find a solution for our service specific configurations and hope that it can be integrate into the Google software next year,” he said, later adding that Sprint is working to enable domestic LTE roaming on the Google Pixel “very soon. You should see this capability early next year.”

While Google’s Pixel was announced as a Verizon exclusive, Sprint points out that the Pixel and Pixel XL, the first smartphones designed and marketed exclusively by Google, have been available for activation on the Sprint Network since they debuted. Sprint tested and certified Google Pixel on the Sprint Network and claims it offers better pricing over T-Mobile for those who are looking for two lines with unlimited data.

Like the last time the COO of technology at Sprint did an AMA on Reddit, Ottendorfer was asked about VoLTE, this time as to whether there was any word on a VoLTE trial or beta opt-in for those who live in dense LTE areas and understand the consequences of flipping the switch.

“We are on a path toward having an all IP-based network capable of supporting VoLTE,” he replied. “We have not announced a timeframe for commercial deployment of VoLTE. Today we offer HD Voice on a very efficient CDMA1x platform and we will not transition customers to VoLTE until we can match the great voice experience provided today.”

RELATED: After confirming VoLTE, LTE femtocell plans, Sprint’s Ottendorfer heading back to Reddit AMA

He also noted that SoftBank began deploying VoLTE in Japan last year and “we will leverage their expertise. Interoperability between national and international service providers is key to ensuring a viable VoLTE ecosystem.”

Asked what, if anything, he could reveal about future carrier aggregation (CA) plans, such as intraband, non-contiguous Band 41, he replied: “Well, let me share with you and our friends here a little secret: In some markets we are already testing band 25 CA. Good news - many of our devices are already capable. Stay tuned. More to come next year.”

On a lighter note, Ottendorfer, who speaks English and German, said the meaning behind the sun emoji that he uses a lot is to “visualize a happy mood I’m in most of the time. Sonnenschein bringt gute Laune!” He also invited Reddit users in the Kansas City area to visit the newly opened Plaza store on Saturday, where CEO Marcelo Claure would be serving customers all day. Ottendorfer and other Sprint leaders planned to be in stores across the nation on Saturday.

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