VoLTE or Voice over LTE is something Verizon has been trying to implement in their LTE network for a while now. They realize that the future is all about using voice over the data pipeline, and they want to be the first in the US to do it. But to do that they need chips that are able to achieve that in a very efficient way, and Qualcomm is the first to make that happen. Many might not realize this, but Qualcomm used to be a company that was a lot more known for their telecommunications business than for their ARM business.

So how will this work? Before we get to that future of All-IP communications, where everything happens over the Internet, we’ll need a transition period, and Qualcomm is providing that with these new VoLTE chips that allow voice communications to switch from LTE to WCDMA seamlessly, so you don’t lose ability to use this technology as soon as you are outside of the LTE coverage.

Qualcomm will give a demo for this at MWC in Barcelona in a couple of weeks, but I doubt we’ll see this technology in phones until the end of the year, or most likely not until 2013. If they are just in the demo stage, it means it will take 8-12 months for their customers to ship them in devices (remember how long it took Nvidia to ship Tegra 2 and Tegra 3?).

Here’s the full press release:

SAN DIEGO — February 2, 2012— Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that the Company, working with Ericsson, has successfully completed the first voice call handover from an LTE mobile network to a WCDMA network using Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC). An important technology required for voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) support, SRVCC is a 3GPP specified feature that enables continuity of service by seamlessly switching to a WCDMA network when a consumer on a VoLTE call leaves the LTE network’s coverage area. This milestone occurred on December 23, 2011 with an Ericsson network using a handset which incorporated Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 3G/LTE multimode processor. A demonstration will be available at Qualcomm’s booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 27 – March 1, 2012.

“As LTE networks are deployed alongside 3G networks, the ability for multimode 3G/LTE mobile devices to connect to different network technologies will be an important part of providing the best possible mobile voice and data experience to consumers,” said Cristiano Amon, senior vice president of product management, Qualcomm. “Qualcomm is committed to the successful deployment of LTE networks worldwide in conjunction with 3G networks, and the milestone we’ve achieved with Ericsson is another step towards making VoLTE technology a commercial reality.”

SRVCC is the next logical step in the 4G LTE voice roadmap following the commercial launch of circuit-switched fallback technology (CSFB) on smartphones in 2011. CSFB allows a single radio in the handset to dynamically switch from an LTE data connection to a 3G connection when the user needs to make or receive a call. Similarly, SRVCC support enables a single radio in the handset to execute a seamless handover of a voice call from an LTE network to a 3G network. Furthermore, SRVCC and CSFB allow both LTE and 3G network connections to be supported on a single chip, eliminating the need for smartphones to use separate LTE and 3G radios and modems. This allows OEMs to design handsets with lower power consumption and component costs and a smaller size. Given that 3G networks will continue to be deployed in conjunction with LTE networks for quite some time, SRVCC and CSFB are essential to provide a seamless voice experience to customers using LTE multimode handsets once VoLTE is commercially deployed. Qualcomm is committed to ensuring the best voice performance to users in LTE networks through industry-leading CSFB and SRVCC technologies.