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Verizon places 1st voice call on 4G network

Thu, 02/10/2011 - 7:10am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Verizon Wireless says it has placed the first voice call over its commercial LTE network, moving IMS-based Voice over LTE (VoLTE) from the lab to a commercial network for the first time.

The 33-second call was placed at 9:54 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Feb. 8, by Balaji Raghavachari, manager of technology for Verizon Wireless, using an Android-based LG Revolution smartphone from Verizon's headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J.

The call was received by Sanyogita Shamsunder, director of technology for Verizon Wireless, who was also on a LG Revolution in Basking Ridge. During additional calls made that morning, the technologists were able to browse the Web and use other data services while participating in voice calls.

"Today is another proof point that the LTE ecosystem is alive, healthy and thriving," said Verizon Chief Technology Officer Tony Melone in a press release. "VoLTE will quickly become the global standard for delivering voice over LTE networks."

Subsequent test calls lasted more than 10 minutes, and technologists browsed the Web, participated in chats and downloaded applications from the Android Market while on a voice call.

Verizon Wireless said it plans to "enhance VoLTE with rich communications services and optimize performance" on its LTE network over the course of the next year, with commercial VoLTE services expected to launch in 2012. The company will be demonstrating its IMS-based VoLTE calls at the GSM Association's (GSMA) Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week.

"The GSMA launched a voice over LTE initiative a year ago with the aim of driving a single, industry-wide solution for voice and messaging services via IP," said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer at the GSMA, in a statement. "We commend Verizon Wireless for helping to make this a reality by conducting the world's first voice call over a commercial LTE network. The progress made by the GSMA, its members, and in particular Verizon Wireless, to enable this functionality will play a crucial role in driving strong momentum and vast economies of scale for LTE all over the world."

Verizon isn't the only carrier eyeing VoLTE. No-contract carrier MetroPCS, which offers LTE service in 13 cities, said in November that it would begin trials of VoLTE sometime this year, though commercially available service wouldn't launch until late in the fourth quarter or early 2012.

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