Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is proceeding with plans to commercially introduce voice over LTE (VoLTE) in 2014, said an executive with the carrier's parent company.
"We're building a nationwide [wireless] VoIP network that will be network-ready this year and roll out next year," said Tony Melone, CTO of Verizon Communications, which owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless. Vodafone Group owns the remaining 45 percent.
Melone made his remarks during a keynote address at the Perspectives13 conference in Orlando, Fla., which was hosted by multimedia and cloud communication solutions developer Genband. He declined to provide more specific launch times for the VoLTE initiative, reported our sister publication FierceTelecom.
The 2014 launch date represents a delay of two years over Verizon's initial plans for VoLTE.
Nicola Palmer, CTO of Verizon Wireless, told FierceWireless during the 2013 Mobile World Congress that the carrier hoped to deploy VoLTE late this year or early in 2014. "Eventually we will want our customers to have the same Rich Communications Services that VoLTE enables when they travel as well," she said at the time.
Verizon is not alone in its VoLTE efforts. A recent job posting on AT&T's (NYSE:T) website seeks a lead product marketing manager for the carrier's VoLTE initiative. The position will be based in Atlanta.
During an April speaking appearance, Kris Rinne, executive vice president of network technologies at AT&T Labs, confirmed earlier reports that the operator intends to roll out HD Voice as part of its VoLTE strategy later this year.
Last August, MetroPCS--which this week merged into T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS)--became the first U.S. carrier to commercially launch VoLTE. T-Mobile has pledged to support MetroPCS' VoLTE deployments but is unlikely to expand on them anytime soon because the merged company does not face the same spectral restraints that haunted MetroPCS' CDMA network.
A major challenge for operators pondering a VoLTE launch is figuring out how to handle individual legacy voice services. "Do we port them into an IMS domain and, if so, how? Do we secure interworking with the circuit-switched domain and the new IMS domain? There are all sorts of options and, for me, this is the most challenging discussion that we have," said Michel Lenoir, program manager for LTE at Vodafone Netherlands, in a recent interview with telecoms.com.
Beyond its VoLTE intentions, Verizon Wireless also intends to expand its aggressive LTE deployment later this year to its AWS 1700/2100 MHz Band 4 spectrum, said Melone. Rollout efforts have so far focused on the carrier's 700 MHz Band 13 spectrum.
Palmer previously said the carrier will deploy 5,000 AWS sites this year. The company expects to wrap up its 700 MHz LTE rollout by mid-year and then will return to existing sites and equip them with AWS antennas, she said.
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