MetroPCS claims world's first voice-over-LTE service

The U.S. operator says it started selling VoLTE handsets on Tuesday, while two South Korean carriers said they'll launch Wednesday

MetroPCS said late Tuesday it had launched a commercial voice-over-LTE service, claiming a win in the international race for the next generation of mobile voice.

The fifth-place U.S. carrier said it was making VoLTE-capable phones available for the first time and had made the first sale of a VoLTE handset at a store in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area. The company, which has about 9.3 million subscribers and a network that reaches 280 million people, said it would continue to roll out VoLTE services and handsets in the coming weeks.

VoLTE sends voice calls over LTE, an IP (Internet Protocol) packet data network, instead of the circuit-switched connections that are typically used on cellular networks including 3G. By converting voice to data, carriers can make better use of their radio spectrum by using the higher efficiency of LTE and ultimately reusing 3G spectrum for the new network. It can also allow for better voice quality. MetroPCS said the technology will also form the basis of future RCS (Rich Communication Services) offerings later this year. RCS can include a variety of real-time services such as voice and videoconferencing.

MetroPCS' announcement looked to be an attempt to keep two South Korean carriers, SK Telecom and LG Uplus, from claiming the first VoLTE launches. On Tuesday, those carriers said they would start VoLTE services on Wednesday. MetroPCS sent out its press release just before 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, which was around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday in South Korea. In South Korea, the Samsung Galaxy S III and LG Optimus II are the only VoLTE devices on the market.

The VoLTE phone MetroPCS sold on Tuesday was an LG Connect 4G Android smartphone, which it said is available at select U.S. stores. The carrier said it would continue to roll out VoLTE services and phones in the coming weeks.

VoLTE converts the caller's voice into packets for transmission over the data network. Though VoLTE uses a different underlying system for making and carrying calls, it is designed to be transparent to subscribers. MetroPCS said the LG Connect 4G Android could use VoLTE for calls to and from the phone, regardless of what handset or network was on the other side of the connection.

MetroPCS calls itself the fifth-largest U.S. operator with its own network, measured by the number of subscribers it serves. The next largest carrier is T-Mobile USA. MetroPCS also launched the first commercial LTE network in the U.S., in Las Vegas in September 2010. Today, its LTE network is available over about 90 percent of the coverage area of its 3G CDMA network.

Of the largest U.S. operators, both AT&T and Verizon Wireless plan to launch VoLTE services, but they aren't expected until 2013. Sprint is just beginning to roll out LTE, and T-Mobile plans to offer it next year.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?