Clearwire CTO: We'll offer VoLTE when we launch TD-LTE network

Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) CTO John Saw said the WiMAX provider will offer Voice over LTE technology when it launches its LTE Advanced-ready network by June 2013.  

"It's really up to our wholesale customers," he said in an interview with FierceWireless. "If they choose to do Voice over LTE, our network would certainly be capable of supporting that."

He added: "Because we plan to be a wholesaler of LTE bandwidth, we need to make sure our network has the RF performance and metrics to support Voice over LTE."

Clearwire plans to launch 5,000 TD-LTE base stations by the summer of next year in major metro markets including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. Clearwire LTE customers include Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP). Sprint has said it will launch VoLTE devices in the first quarter of 2013.

The industry overall is moving toward VoLTE technology as a way to make voice calls clearer and the transmission of voice more network efficient. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) plans to have VoLTE in place by 2013. MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) executives have said the company will launch two to three smartphones with Voice over LTE capabilities in the second half of this year. And Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said it will deploy the technology in late 2012 but will begin pushing it more broadly in mid-2013.

According to research firm ARCchart, over 74 million VoLTE-enabled handsets will be in the global market by 2016.

Interestingly, Clearwire's Saw said the company currently offers Voice over IP technology on its existing network. "On the WiMAX network, we do support a number of Voice over IP customers," he said. "It's nothing new for us."

For more:
- see this ARCchart report

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