Rival wireless carriers typically don't agree on much but today, AT&T and Verizon are setting their differences aside for the greater good. The nation's two largest providers announced on Monday that they're working together on VoLTE (Voice over LTE) to enable VoLTE-to-VoLTE connections between the two.
What that essentially means is that an AT&T customer will be able to initiate a VoLTE call with someone on Verizon and vice versa. As of now, it's not possible to make a VoLTE call to someone on a different wireless network.
For those not up to speed, VoLTE is billed as the next major step in voice call technology. Without digging too deep into the technical aspects, VoLTE essentially repackages a voice call and transmits it as data.
This method offers a number of user-side improvements such as clearer voice calls (often referred to as HD Voice), speedier connection of calls and improved battery life. Wireless carriers are interested in VoLTE as it'll create a network that easier and more cost effective to operate. It'll also free up spectrum on voice-only networks that can then be used for data.
VoLTE service was expected to arrive sooner but slow carrier rollouts have pushed it back a few years. Verizon introduced its VoLTE service in September, opting to brand it as Advanced Calling. It only works with a handful of phones as of writing due to the fact that handsets must also support the feature. AT&T, meanwhile, introduced VoLTE in select test markets earlier this year with plans to expand to more markets and more devices in the coming months.
It was T-Mobile, however, that became the first of the four major carriers to launch VoLTE, doing so this past May.
VoLTE interoperability between AT&T and Verizon is expected to roll out sometime in 2015.