Put simply, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is a protocol that enables making voice calls over LTE networks. Long promised by US carriers, VoLTE should greatly improve voice call quality, to the kind of clarity and richness you typically experience on Skype, Hangouts, or other VoIP services. Switching to VoLTE can also improve battery life and reduce call drop rates.
According to sources cited by Engadget, AT&T could be the first big carrier to flick the switch on a VoLTE service in the United States, with the first markets set to receive it being Minneapolis and Chicago. If everything goes to plan, AT&T customers in these markets may be able to make VoLTE calls on May 23, reports the website.
In an official response, AT&T only said it’s currently completing VoLTE testing and that “initial markets will be VoLTE ready this year.” Verizon was long considered the favorite in the race to offer VoLTE services in the US, but it seems that AT&T will beat it to the punch.
Before you get too excited, you should know that your existing phone may not be capable of making VoLTE calls, even if it features LTE. While many modern devices should support the new standard, AT&T will probably push OTA updates in order to activate the capability.
Back at CES, AT&T and Asus announced that the first device to support VoLTE in the US would be the PadFone X phone-tablet hybrid. So, if Engadget’s report is accurate, the PadFone X should hit the market around May 23.