Cell phone users may not know it yet, but high definition voice is on the way for everyone who uses a cell phone.
Driving the change will be voice over LTE (News - Alert) (VoLTE), explained Paul Kapustka in a PCWorld article.
Most cellular providers offering 4G services use Long Term Evolution (LTE) which is a standards-based internet protocol for moving data across mobile networks. Currently 4G LTE-capable mobile phones use the LTE network for data and an older technology such as 3G for voice services, since LTE currently is just a data protocol. With the advent of VoLTE, however, voice also can travel across the LTE protocol. This has numerous implications.
The first and perhaps most important is moving all calls over the network as data. Whereas currently data tunnels through a voice technology such as 3G, basically, VoLTE will reverse the situation and put voice on the data network as just another data application.
Voice on the data network is much more efficient than the older circuit-based technology, Kapustka noted, “so VoLTE would allow service providers to improve their internal operations significantly. And by moving voice traffic off older networks, service providers could theoretically ‘refarm’ the old cellular spectrum and use it for more 4G-based networks.”
This added bandwidth and spectrum opens to door for high-definition calls and other features.
“Since the data network allows for more efficient use of bandwidth, operators have the option of bringing features such as high-definition voice and video chat to VoLTE-equipped devices and networks,” Kapustka noted.
Along with HD voice, VoLTE will help carriers offer over-the-top services such as video calls in a more direct manner than apps such as Skype (News - Alert) on a smartphone, because the over-the-top services will be more tightly integrated into the carrier network, which can give the services access to information such as subscriber location, device type and billing information.
VoLTE is not currently in use because it requires new technology in phones and in the cellular networks, which takes time. But Kapustka predicted VoLTE—and by extension HD voice as standard for mobile users—will arrive soon.
“Originally, leading LTE providers such as Verizon (News - Alert) and Metrics had hoped to bring VoLTE to market by 2012, but it probably won't appear commercially until 2013,” he said.
All the major U.S. cellular providers have committed to VoLTE when it becomes available, including AT&T, Sprint (News - Alert), Verizon and MetroPCS.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi