United States-based carrier AT&T today officially announced its rollout of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls. The VoLTE rollout comes in tandem with AT&T HD Voice launch, which provides better sounding phone calls. Starting on May 23rd, IllinoisIndianaMinnesota and Wisconsin will be the initially supported markets for these features, but AT&T says to expect a more complete rollout as time goes on:

Beginning May 23, AT&Ti is introducing High Definition (HD) Voiceii on an all-IP, Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) network in select markets. At AT&T, you won’t have to choose between faster data speeds and crystal clear conversations. HD Voice customers can simultaneously talk while surfing the Web at 4G LTE speeds, all on the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE networkiii – it’s the best of both worlds.

AT&T touts the features as being supported by Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Mini, but some of Apple’s products should also be able to support HD Voice. Back in 2012, Apple announced that the iPhone 5 would have HD Voice calling on supported carriers, so it is likely that iPhone users in the AT&T/HD-Voice-supported markets will be able to get better sounding calls. But what about voice-over-LTE support?

While the iPhone’s chipset can support calling over LTE, the iOS software does not actually have the ability to make calls over LTE networks. According to people briefed on Apple’s plans, this may change this fall with iOS 8 and the iPhone 6. As we reported a few weeks ago:

Another significant addition being considered for iOS 8 and the next-generation iPhone is voice-over-LTE support (VoLTE), according to carrier sources. Currently, when an LTE-capable iPhone needs to make a phone call, the actual call is placed over last generation networks such as 3G. With VoLTE, calls will be transmitted over the same type of network that LTE data is processed through, and this can allow for benefits such as improved call quality.

Of course, carrier support is needed for this functionality, and some countries around the world have carriers that have already rolled out support for VoLTE. For those in the United States, T-Mobile’s network (thanks to its agreement with Metro PCS) supports VoLTE while Verizon Wireless and AT&T are actively testing the functionality for a rollout later this year. Of course, it’s plausible that iOS 8 support for VoLTE will be pushed back if enough carriers are unable to meet the rollout timeframe.

Besides AT&T, major Japanese carrier (and close Apple partner) DoCoMo announced that it will begin supporting voice-over-LTE calling in June. As for other U.S. carriers, Verizon Wireless is actively testing voice-over-LTE functionality, and T-Mobile already supports it. T-Mobile also supports HD Voice functionality for the iPhone, as does Sprint, while the other major U.S. carriers are also actively testing support.

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15 Responses to “AT&T announces rollout of voice-over-LTE ahead of likely iPhone 6/iOS 8 integration this fall”

  1. I’ve been using Voice Over 3G, 4G and LTE for years now with my iPod then iPad mini. Just get the Bria App or and a VOIP service which are a dime a dozen. Not need for an iPhone.
    I understand why this is News but not really.


    • While better sound quality is always welcome, using LTE is gong to take a bite out of one’s monthly data. Will those with unlimited data be able to use LTE this way without a penality?


      • rtd5943 says:

        I think everything will be data when this goes thorough. Which means higher data cost. However, shouldn’t the unlimited voice plan I pay for ($60/mth) go away? I’m sure the slimy executives in their ivory towers have figured a way to spin this so that it costs the same if not more.


      • Avenged110 says:

        I would assume calls made wouldn’t count against your data bucket.


      • At 16 or 32 kbits/sec VoiceOver IP hardly consume any data. Besides, when on WiFi data count doesn’t matter.


  2. thebums66 says:

    Isn’t voice only face time calls similar in quality – only using wifi instead of LTE? I think HD will be good enough and not cost your data. We shall see.


    • adyendrus says:

      Last I checked my phone will do LTE FaceTime Audio (and Video actually…) calls without a problem. I’m not jailbroken, but I remember there was some news about this being allowed.


  3. Avenged110 says:

    9to5Mac, you should clarify that AT&T’s HD voice solution is part of their VoLTE strategy, as in they enable each other. So while T-Mobile has enabled wideband audio over their UMTS network, AT&T’s will only function over LTE. So basically their HD voice launch and their VoLTE launch are the same thing, not exactly tandem. The article just came off as rather ambiguous with relation to what is happening.


  4. And yet they still don’t offer unlimited data. Honestly, these cell phone companies are the worst.


  5. bqecze says:

    I thought they were supposed to have this or wide band audio out at the end of last year. As mentioned in this article :


    In the interim there was no mention of it. Is this the same thing? They seem to do so either without acknowledging the first or not liking the latter.


    • Avenged110 says:

      That’s where it becomes difficult to know because places don’t usually differentiate between Wideband Audio being rolled out over UMTS (like T-Mobile) or over LTE (like VoLTE) and usually just refer to it as “HD Voice.” I’m sure there’s a big discrepancy between the two methods of implementation that I don’t fully understand, but at the time of that press release, AT&T claimed it was part of their VoLTE strategy. However, they never made any claims about actually rolling out VoLTE so I can only assume they were referencing doing so over UMTS. That being said, they clearly had no intention of ever doing that.

      So moral of the story, I have no idea what that first announcement was about and we should never trust AT&T.


    • Avenged110 says:

      Apparently, Wideband Audio is implemented over UMTS and increases the available frequencies for voice transmission while VoLTE achieves much of the same but is (obviously) implemented over LTE and differs in that it routes the voice traffic over IP instead of a circuit-switched network. So their first announcement was bs.


  6. and maybe a year after this, AT&T will support this technology on the iPhone….


  7. Voiceover US says:

    if AT&T supports voice over well. that will be great .. for all voice over needy. http://vananvoice.com