Call quality is long overdue for an improvement. Several carriers have proposed solutions, but AT&T may be the first solution available for use.
It’s been a long time coming, but improved voice quality is finally coming to some US carriers. Despite the rapidly improving data speeds being offered, voice calling has been nearly unchanged since the advent of the cell phone, or the advent of the landline, for that matter.
Starting May 23rd, AT&T is enabling LTE calling for parts of various states in the midwest United States. Specific regions within Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will be the first to be enabled for the new LTE voice service, but the coverage will obviously expand from there. AT&T has not unveiled an official release plan yet, but these build outs normally extend from the initial launch areas prior to adding new regions.
The only phone that will initially support the LTE voice is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. The choice of such a mediocre device suggests the initial release is also a beta test of sorts. The Galaxy S4 Mini did not post amazing sales numbers, so the carrier can ensure that only a small number of people initially have access in order to mitigate any hiccups in the rollout. Newer and more popular phones will be able to be updated down the road to support LTE voice as the service proves itself.
HD voice calling may sound like overkill to some, because voice quality has always been the same, but so much range and clarity are lost during transmission that even a little background noise or interference can make it extremely difficult to understand the person on the other end of the phone.
AT&T will be the first to market with improved voice calling, since Sprint’s HD Voice solution isn’t slated to be in place until July this year. Hopefully improved voice calling catches on quickly across all carriers, but with all the legacy cell phones still in use today, networks can’t change voice service too quickly without impacting customers using older phones.
If all goes well, thousands–or hopefully millions–of subscribers will have access to HD voice or VoLTE services by the end of the year.