Verizon and AT&T plan to switch on cross-network VoLTE calls in 2015, the two carriers have confirmed today, opening the door to first voice over LTE calls and then one day video calling and messaging. VoLTE launched on Verizon’s network in September, allowing handsets like the iPhone 6 to use the data network for VoIP rather than traditional methods, with the addition of HD-quality audio too. However, for the moment, VoLTE only supports calls between subscribers on the same network, something Verizon and AT&T are planning to change.
It’s not just a case of flipping a switch, however. Verizon and AT&T are only just kicking off in-lab trials of the system, which will be followed by field trials.
A full launch of inter-network VoLTE isn’t expected until sometime in 2015, and even then it will only support voice calls. Other so-called “Rich Communications Services” like video calls, switching between voice and video without having to disconnect in-between, won’t follow on until later.
The two firms are leaving the door open to other carriers to get involved as well, arguing that seamless VoLTE is vital if the technology is to turn off.
“We’re pleased to be working with AT&T as our first interoperating carrier,” Verizon’s Tony Melone, chief technology officer, said today, “and we look forward to working with other operators as VoLTE continues to grow.”
The news follows moves by both carriers to increase the amount of data they each offer, something which clearly tickled T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere. The outspoken chief exec didn’t seem enamored by the boost, suggesting that AT&T and Verizon “need to take leaps, not baby steps!”
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) November 3, 2014
Update: An earlier version of this story indicated Legere was commenting on the VoLTE partnership. We apologize for any confusion as a result.