Verizon announced new network upgrades that will supercharge the iPhone and Android smartphones later this year with better sounding calls. The new network will likely deliver the ability to talk and use data at the same time on the iPhone 5s through an iOS 8 update and on the rumored new iPhone for 2014.
The Verizon VoLTE (Voice over LTE) network is rolling out later this year, with nationwide availability in “the coming months.” The announcement comes just days after Verizon announced a faster XLTE network that provides up to double the speed of standard 4G LTE and delivers better connectivity in congested areas.
XLTE and VoLTE are not the same thing, and to most users these acronyms may be a bit much, but what they really mean is the iPhone 5s, a new iPhone and many of the latest Android smartphones should be able to deliver vastly better sounding audio. This will only work when calling other users with a compatible smartphone.
When the rollout is complete, Verizon can turn on a switch to offer VoLTE support to any user that is connected to Verizon 4G LTE in one go. Verizon is still putting the finishing touches on this system and testing the new enhanced calling and other features ahead of the official launch.
In the announcement Verizon did not announce specifically which smartphones support VoLTE, but did say that this technology is, “supported by a tangible volume of handsets.” Verizon will also sell a “robust” lineup of VoLTE smartphones when the new network goes live later this year. Though unconfirmed it is very likely that most recent devices like the Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 will support Verizon’s VoLTE network. The older Samsung Galaxy S3 included the hardware needed for VoLTE as far back as 2012.
An analysis of the iPhone 5s shortly after the release discovered the hardware is in place to support VoLTE, but the device needs a software update to use the new VoLTE features. Expect to see multiple updates arrive to a variety of smartphones this year. Verizon says, “select handsets will be VoLTE-enabled through a software update leading up to the roll out of the service, with new devices VoLTE-enabled at the time of purchase later this year.”
For the iPhone 5s this update will likely be part of iOS 8. Apple is ready to announce a new version of the iPhone software at WWDC 2014 on June 2nd, and a report from 9to5Mac claims VoLTE support may be one of the features that Apple adds to the iPhone this year. If VoLTE is part of the iOS 8 update it would likely only work on the iPhone 5s and the rumored iPhone 6 once the iOS 8 release arrived for the general public.
The video above explains one of the reasons Verizon users especially want to see VoLTE arrive on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. AT&T iPhone users can make calls and browse the web, but the Verizon iPhones do not support it. This means Verizon users cannot look up the hours of a business or a menu while talking on the iPhone, but VoLTE and iOS 8 could change this.
In addition to delivering better sounding phone calls with HD voice, this support would also likely allow iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 users to talk and use the web at the same time because VoLTE sends calls as data instead of over older technology. Verizon VoLTE support will also bring the ability to make video calls directly from a contact list on supported phones and pave the way for large file transfer, better group messaging and easier location sharing activities.
AT&T announced support for VoLTE this year with testing starting this month with one phone in a variety of markets.