After years in development, Verizon on Tuesday announced its official plans to roll out two huge new calling features “in the coming weeks,” including HD voice and voice-over LTE, also known as VoLTE, according to The Verge’s Dan Seifert.
VoLTE is a service that uses LTE data networks to carry voice traffic; typical cellular networks separate their voice and data streams. This means Verizon customers will be able to enjoy video calling features without needing to sign up for an extra service. The screenshot below shows how Verizon’s dedicated video calling service would work.
Verizon says it needed to substantially upgrade its networks to roll out VoLTE, but that’s also because VoLTE will allow Verizon to introduce its first HD voice service, something its competitors have been working on as well.
Also known as wideband audio, HD voice allows for extremely clear voice calls. As Apple explained at its iPhone 5 event in 2012, typical voice calls compress the frequency of the data around the mid-range to make calls more intelligible, even though it doesn’t sound entirely natural. With HD audio, more of the frequency spectrum is used to make your voice sound much more natural.
According to The Verge, customers that want to try out Verizon’s HD voice service will need to own a compatible smartphone, and they will also have to call someone with a compatible smartphone on Verizon’s network as well.
Verizon is not yet saying which phones will be compatible with its HD voice or VoLTE services, but the company says they’re coming “in the near future.” We’ve reached out to Verizon Wireless to learn these details and we’ll update this story as soon as we learn more.
According to Seifert, who tested Verizon’s new services in New York City with an LG G2 that was updated to work with VoLTE, “calls over VoLTE were significantly better sounding, without the audio compression and distant feeling that most cellular calls have.”
“Switching between a VoLTE call and a standard CDMA call was like night and day, with the VoLTE call just sounding a whole lot better. I’m not convinced that it will make me actually start using my phone for voice calls again, but if I had to, I’d choose a VoLTE call over traditional cellular any day of the week.
Seifert also said Verizon’s integrated video calling feature was easy to use, and it was “painless” to switch between voice and video calling. Read more about his experience here.
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