Engineers from US giants Verizon and AT&T say they have identified the requirements for an interoperable voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, and have begun extensive testing in lab environments. Interoperability field trials are expected to take place before live services launch in 2015.
VoLTE, the all-IP HD calling tech, integrates enhanced calling features over the network and into the smartphone handset, which is intended to create a high quality and seamless calling experience. As a result of Verizon and AT&T’s cooperative measures, the news will come as a welcome shot in the arm of VoLTE advances in North America.
Verizon claims the trialling approach being taken by its engineers ensures a seamless VoLTE experience for customers, while laying the foundation for the development of other rich communications services (RCS), such as video calls.
“Customers use their smartphones to connect with friends, family and colleagues across service providers and around the world. Interoperability among all VoLTE providers takes connectivity to the next level with HD quality voice and additional features that customers want,” said Tony Melone, Verizon’s CTO. “We’re pleased to be working with AT&T as our first interoperating carrier, and we look forward to working with other operators as VoLTE continues to grow.”
According to Verizon, both parties have worked closely with the GSMA for the interoperability project, as a part of the association’s Network 2020 programme, designed to accelerate the development of IP-based communications services.
President of AT&T Labs and CTO, Krish Prabhu, sees the cooperative effort as integral to the pervasion of VoLTE services across the US. “Interoperability of VoLTE between wireless carriers is crucial to a positive customer experience,” he said.
“Customers expect to be able to connect anywhere, anytime– and as LTE technology continues to evolve, it’s imperative that we provide a seamless experience between carriers. We are pleased to work with Verizon on this initiative. We continue to work with others in the industry on similar collaborative arrangements and hope to see similar collaboration across the industry in the near future.”
As one would expect, the GSMA has also praised the work between the two parties. “Embracing an all-IP future is vital for operators worldwide and the GSMA is delighted that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are bringing these services to their customers,” said Alex Sinclair, the GSMA’s CTO.
While it is certainly good news that the two telcos have put any differences aside and agreed to work together in developing VoLTE, carrier cooperation is the absolute fundamental foundation of the telecoms industry. In a recent interview with Telecoms.com, Google’s CTO of Corporate Networks, Geng Lin, explained why cooperation at an infrastructural level is integral to service delivery for carriers.
“In order to support end-to-end services and application behaviour from the cloud data centre and deliver that to the customer in North America or Europe with a consistent user experience; they have to have standardisation and commonality at an infrastructure level, and collaboration is essential to that,” he said. “If carriers want to elevate their own effectiveness in supporting applications, then they would have to collaborate.”
One questions whether the next generation of communication services could ever be realised if such cooperation didn’t exist. If telcos are to maximise the potential of new revenue generating services, and subsequently compete more aggressively with OTT or content providers, then further agreements will need to be in place with carriers across the country, and the world.