Verizon Wireless is promising improved voice quality on phone calls when its able to deliver voice services over its new "4G" LTE network, according to a story on CNN.com.
CNN spoke to Brian Higgins, executive director for ecosystem development at Verizon Wireless, who said that the company will be offering voice over LTE service sometime next year. The improved voice quality will be considered "high-definition" audio fidelity.
Verizon Wireless launched its LTE network in December and will soon begin selling smartphones that use the network. When the first LTE phones hit the market, they will use Verizon's traditional CDMA network to deliver voice services and the company's new LTE network to deliver faster data services. But Higgins told CNN that the company will soon be able to offer the voice service over the LTE network, which will improve call quality among other things.
It will also allow Verizon phones to handle data and voice services at the same time. Today's version of CDMA chips in Verizon phones do not allow data and voice services to be delivered simultaneously. This is a fact that AT&T has pointed out in its marketing as a major difference between its 3G cell phone service and Verizon's service. Verizon is the first company to sell the iPhone after AT&T's three and a half year exclusive to sell the phone in the U.S. The Verizon iPhone goes on sale later this week.
The new voice over LTE service on Verizon's network will allow the company to offer a video chat service. Other video chat services are available on cell phones today, but the quality is not very good on some and many do not work over a carrier's 3G cellular service. For example, today AT&T iPhone customers can use Apple's FaceTime application, but it only works over a Wi-Fi network. Apple is working to test the service over a 3G wireless network, CNN said.
Skype also allows wireless users to make video calls over a 3G network, but the quality is not great. CNN reported that Skype and Verizon are working together on a video conferencing feature.
Verizon plans to demonstrate Internet calls over LTE next week at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona, the CNN article said. Verizon will show off the new feature on the LG Revolution, a new Google Android smartphone announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month.
The service won't be available when the LG Revolution launches later this year. Verizon expects voice over LTE to be available next year.
Dick Lynch, Verizon Communications' former CTO, said last year at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona that getting voice to work over LTE has been particularly challenging. But a new standard was adopted about a year ago by members of the GSM Association, which has helped resolve many of those issues.
Verizon's LTE network launched in 38 markets in December. By the end of 2011, it will be able to serve 200 million people with the service. Within 18 months, Verizon says it will blanket the entire country with the service, serving about two-thirds of users in its 3G wireless footprint. Eventually, Verizon will offer LTE everywhere 3G is available. By the end of 2013, the service will be available to more than 285 million potential customers.