The outlook for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in America is pretty dire, with sources saying it might be until late 2013 before Verizon lights up nationwide coverage. and 2014 for Sprint. One person with insight into LTE said AT&T had an outside chance of beating Verizon.
Turning back the clock to Mobile World Congress 2011, Verizon Wireless was demonstrating VoLTE and talking about a second half 2012 rollout. Later in the year, a Verizon executive told Wireless Week the company would rollout the service in the second half of 2012.
Since then, Verizon has clammed up on discussing a VoLTE introduction date. One source believes trials won’t start until early 2013 with nationwide availability happening in late 2013. The holdup appears to be around dropped call handoff, according to the source. He also believed AT&T had a chance to introduce VoLTE before Verizon in 2013 if Verizon kept running into technical issues.
Sprint’s rollout appears to a long way off, with multiple sources indicating it won’t be until either late 2013 or early 2014 before the company manages to put voice on its LTE network. The service provider’s main challenge for VoLTE is to first deploy its Network Vision upgrades nationwide for LTE.
MetroPCS and T-Mobile USA appear to have the most interesting challenge. One person HD Voice News spoke to said MetroPCS only has VoLTE running “on one cell in Dallas” so they could claim to be the first to have it before the South Koreans. Assuming the merger of the two goes as planned, there will be an urgency to move to LTE as fast as possible in order to quickly standardize on one cellular technology and be able to refarm/regroup spectrum in order to provide faster data speeds. But how fast can a deployment take place?