updated 02:00 pm EST, Tue February 8, 2011
LG Revolution confirmed as first VoLTE phone
Verizon's LG Revolution should be the first phone in the US to support Voice over LTE (VoLTE), the carrier's ecosystem development executive lead Brian Higgins said Tuesday. The device will be part of a larger rollout for voice on 4G across the network due to start in earnest in mid-year. The feature will let any compatible smartphone not only use VoIP as though it were regular cellular service but will be the first wide-scale instance in which Verizon users can call and use data at the same time.
The service will be pushed heavily when it goes live, Higgins told CNN. VoLTE will be the default calling mode on the Revolution and its peers and will only drop to CDMA when LTE isn't available. In-progress calls will have a proper handover to keep the call going when it switches between different network types.
Call quality will go up when it involves a pure 4G-to-4G connection, the executive said, but will sound roughly the same when the other end is using a traditional cellular connection. Verizon plans to market the voice quality improvement as a cornerstone of the service.
It's not known how quickly VoLTE will deploy after it's ready, but the aim is to eventually replace CDMA entirely. Verizon expects to cover two thirds of its footprint by late 2012 and its entire network by 2013 and will likely have complete coverage by then. It can't drop CDMA entirely for some years afterwards as many customers on contracts or who need legacy support will have to be phased out, much as carriers cut off analog service several years after it ceased to be the main format.
A demo of Verizon's VoLTE is due at Mobile World Congress next week.
The early adoption doesn't necessarily point to phone makers rushing LTE phones to market. Despite hopes, most expect the 2011 iPhone update to be a dual-mode phone with 3G for CDMA and GSM networks. Apple and most other companies are predicted to make the first push in 2012 once chipsets are small and efficient enough to work in regular-sized phones rather than giant devices like the Revolution.