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Verizon to Launch VoLTE Network

  By David Delony, Contributing Writer

Modern smartphones keep getting better as more features are added and performance is enhanced, but the weakest link has always been the networks, where the carriers struggle to keep up to support the latest devices and their data demands. Verizon (News - Alert) is attempting to do just that by launching a VoLTE service.

The carrier announced that it will launch VoLTE in the fourth quarter of this year, but will only offer LTE (News - Alert)-only phones starting in 2016.

The reason for the delay appears to be concerns over reliability.

“For us, when we launch a new technology, we have to make sure our quality is strong because the CDMA network was so strong," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said in a company webcast. "We don't go before we know it's ready."

Shammo said that there were some interesting applications for VoLTE, including telemedicine. Even if VoLTE is an improvement over standard mobile voice quality, it’s still far from certain whether consumers will move to VoLTE en masse from current smartphones the way they did from feature phones.

Consumers will embrace new technologies, but only if they perceive a real benefit outside of customers who want the most advanced technologies just for the sake of new technology. Viewers were quick to make the jump from VHS to DVD, but Blu-Ray hasn’t in turn replaced DVDs quite yet.

VoLTE is facing stiff competition from over-the-top services like Skype (News - Alert) that not only offer voice but also video communication, irrespective of what carrier both parties are using. The greater quality might not be enough to sway those for whom the standard voice quality and perhaps Skype are good enough. But customers will definitely appreciate the raw speed that LTE offers, even if they’re using OTT services rather than VoLTE.

Verizon, for its part, already has 200 VoLTE-capable POPs on its network, which it claims is the largest 4G LTE network in the U.S.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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