Also, more operators will launch voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services, including AT&T and possibly Verizon Wireless in the U.S. "We see that interest is growing a lot, and during next year several operators want to roll out the technology," said Kati Öhman, marketing manager for VoLTE at Ericsson. U.S. operator MetroPCS as well as SK Telecom and LG Uplus in South Korea were the first to announce VoLTE services, and next year most of the demand will still be in North America and Asia. But European operators are also starting to look at using LTE for voice, according to Öhman.
The move to an all-IP network will make it easier for operators to add more voice-related services that can compete with today's Web-based offerings like Skype, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
Such services include video calls, chat, presence, and other multimedia services, according to Öhman. Users will also be able to configure incoming calls to ring on multiple devices and will be able to easily move sessions between a tablet and smartphone, she said.
But first operators will concentrate on getting just the voice part right. Also, installing HD Voice will be the default in VoLTE networks. "You don't have do it, but there is really no reason not to do it. All VoLTE smartphones will have HD Voice from day one," said Öhman.
HD Voice offers improved sound quality thanks to AMR-WB (Adaptive Multrate Wideband), a speech-compression algorithm that doubles the range of voice frequencies transmitted.
The number of commercial LTE networks will continue to grow next year, with 209 networks expected to be up and running by 2014 compared to an estimated 166 in 2012, according to industry organization Global Mobile Suppliers Association.
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