Verizon plans to let users use its 4G LTE network for voice calls by late next year.
Verizon Vice President of Network Operations Nicola Palmer discussed the networks plan in a recent interview with CNet. Palmer said that Verizon will begin consumer testing of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in later 2013, and will likely roll out the feature to users the following year, 2014.
VoLTE gives users clearer phone calls because it converts phone calls into data and sends it over the 4G LTE network. VoLTE also means Verizon users will be able to use 4G LTE for data and voice at the same time.
The latter feature isn’t a problem with many Android smartphones that have separate 3G and 4G LTE radios, but it could potentially solve an issue for phones like the iPhone 5 which have only one radio for both networks. VoLTE will mean the iPhone 5 won’t have to jump down to 3G to make a call which is what prevents simultaneous voice and data on Verizon.
Unfortunately, however, when Verizon does roll out VoLTE, the iPhone 5 likely won’t support the feature. Not every phone can support the feature, so iPhone 5 users likely won’t get a chance to use the new feature when it does roll out.
There is a major downside to Voice over LTE, however. Because the feature turns voice conversations into data it means users will use precious data while talking on the phone. That will rend the unlimited voice minutes in Verizon’s Share Everything plans essentially useless unless the company doesn’t count voice calls towards the data limit.
MetroPCS is the only carrier in the U.S. that currently offers VoLTE, though it only offers it in one market with one phone.