LTE is a wonderful thing. Even more wonderful, however, is VoLTE (Voice over LTE) — a technology that will transition voice from GSM/CDMA to the much higher quality LTE spec. Currently, carriers use a mixture of EDGE, HSPA and CDMA technologies paired with LTE radios to shuttle voice and data amongst multiple networks. It’s a band-aid type of solution as a single network in today’s modern world would not only be simpler to maintain and operate, but allow our electronic devices to be much more efficient too.
The two main carriers gunning for VoLTE deployment, Verizon and MetroPCS, have each promised to have some form of VoLTE functionality live in the very near future, though it is MetroPCS who appeared to have a leg up on the competition thanks to a late-March launch date for said VoLTE network. But there appears to be a problem. Sadly, the planned MetroPCS VoLTE rollout scheduled to go live in Q1 of this year (by late March) is no more, with the carrier now citing a vague “second half of 2012″.
The reasoning behind the delay hasn’t been publicly divulged.
Without the VoLTE network live, MetroPCS can’t begin refarming their current network for VoLTE/LTE use – a practice the involves re-purposing network bands from an older technology to a new one. In this case, MetroPCS wants to get VoLTE off the ground so they can move all of their voice off of CDMA service onto LTE, and thereby free up said frequency for more LTE bandwidth.
While the delay is certainly disappointing, we’d say they’re still doing better than AT&T or Verizon, the latter of which has missed/changed a deadline or two themselves.
It’s worth noting that while the rollout has been pushed back, MetroPCS is is still promising to have at least one VoLTE compatible device on the market by the end of 2012.