AT&T First To Deploy VoLTE Network for HD Voice

The second-largest wireless carrier in the United States, AT&T, is on the cusp of rolling out what could eventually mark a strategic differentiator: high definition (HD) voice. The telecom giant is tapping its all-IP Voice over LTE (VoLTE) network as it brings its HD Voice to select markets, making it the first carrier to deploy VoLTE for high definition service.

HD Voice is a wideband technology that promises crisp call quality with reduced background noise so a caller feels like he's right next to the person on the other line. Historically, voice calls have been transmitted on a limited frequency of 300 Hz to 3.4 kHz. To provide better call quality, HD Voice greatly expands that range from 50 Hz to 7 kHz -- and even higher -- to bring high definition calling to the handset.

Limited Market To Start

With its rollout, AT&T is making a bold promise: Customers donEUt have to choose between faster data speeds and clear voice quality. HD Voice promises to let you talk while surfing the Web at 4G LTE speeds with no compromise in terms of data speed or voice quality.

However, to get the benefit of HD Voice, AT&T indicates both the caller and receiver need an AT&T HD Voice capable phone and must be located in an AT&T HD Voice coverage area. For now, that means an extremely limited market.

HD Voice from AT&T will initially be available in select areas of the U.S., in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, starting May 23. The company said it will continue expanding on a market-by-market basis.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini will be the first device to include HD Voice capabilities. AT&T promised to serve the much-anticipated technology to other devices soon.

Early Advantage

We caught up with Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst, to get his take on AT&TEUs...

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