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Verizon Plans to Launch VoLTE Phones by End of This Year to Help Lower Subsidies

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Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2013 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Verizon  CFO Fran “ShamWow” Shammo brought to life the idea that his company will likely start to sell VoLTE devices by the end of this year or early 2014 and that they will help lower subsidies in phones. With VoLTE (voice-over LTE), there isn’t a need for a CDMA modem inside the device because voice and data are both done over LTE, so the prices of phones would essentially drop and become more affordable to consumers. 

The key here, is the fact that Verizon’s 4G LTE network has grown so rapidly. Once they have matched their 3G network coverage by mid-2013, they will be able to release VoLTE phones that run on nothing but LTE.

While Shammo’s comments likely had to do with an ongoing conversation in the industry over a change in subsidy approach (T-Mobile makes you pay a monthly fee for phones rather than through a typical upfront price slashing via subsidy), we care more about what this means for Nexus and future device implications. If Verizon were to sell a phone with no CDMA radio inside, we’re talking about an opportunity for Google to drop a new phone on us with an LTE radio inside tuned to Big Red’s band 13 LTE frequency with no need to worry about the locked up nature of their CDMA network. This could also mean a time where we can buy unlocked LTE phones (assuming they support Verizon’s band) and activate without a need to go through Verizon, much like we see with current GSM networks.

VoLTE may be our second chance at having a Nexus that works on Verizon. If VZW plans to have phones of this nature by the end of this year, feel free to start hypebeasting your next Nexus feature list in the comments.

Via:  Fierce Wireless

  • javier rodriguez

    The day Verizon does something to benefit customers is the day I crap rainbows and pee kool aid. The phones will be looked down tighter than… I don’t know something tight. And the cost drop will only benefit them… nazis .

  • sgtguthrie

    Remember, with voLTE your phone calls will just get rolled into your DATA that is now TIERED! This could work well with a NEXUS if you still have unlimited like me though ;-)

    • Bionic

      The impact is negligible. Voice takes up very little data.

      • sgtguthrie

        I hope that is correct. Seeing how greedy VZW has become, I’m skeptical though…

  • Jeremy Gill

    Except they’ll probably control the use of their proprietary VoLTE technology.

  • Alex

    Im in wisconsin and i still go to places where i dont have 3G. well any bars really.

  • Trevor

    Unlocked phones on Verizon LTE. Sounds pretty damn good to me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bnrayez Benjamin Reyes

    It will cost more for the customer since voip is data and verizon doesnt have unlimited data so I will keep my unlimited minutes and my cdma radio. Ill pay the 20 dollars extra for the phone

  • Jaron1226

    Well they’re not upgrading these crappy 4G towers fast enough. I’m in North Carolina, and I STILL DON’T have 4G data on my 4G capable Galaxy SIII. -___-

  • Stewie

    Oh but you all are forgetting the rest of the story …… Verizon announces shortly after VoLTE implementation that now your minutes that used to not matter now count against your data plan, it is data now after all. Another way to rack up overages and fees for unsuspecting lemmings. Sham is all that is needed to label this guy and his cronies in charge. There is no Wow here, ever.

  • duke69111

    Off topic, but what I hate is Verizon’s coverage map. I know it’s approximate and probably a computer’s estimate on distance, but I don’t like it when it shows areas with small blobs of Talk/3g/4g completely surrounded by no service areas, when in real life there is no service of any kind at all.

  • duke69111

    What will VoLTE do to our speeds?

  • Trey Mitchell

    but does that mean I lose my data connection while on a voice call? or does LTE being based off gsm not have that same limitation that cdma does?

    • jaycemiskel

      You won’t lose your data connection. VoLTE is essentially VOIP. So just like you can use Skype and still use your internet the same is true for voLTE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Trammell/100000443514498 James Trammell

    It will help to lower subsidies because you’ll be chewing through your tiered data plans with everything going over LTE. Overage fees baby! cha-ching!

  • http://www.vgchartz.com SuperChunk

    This should be good as it could.. maybe make Verizon inline with GSM only carriers, right? Would I then get same LTE GMS based phones from any carrier? Maybe this was behind the push to make it illegal to unlock phones.

  • mikeparv

    Is there a possibility, therefore, to have existing LTE phones “switch off” of CDMA then and solely use LTE?

    • LionStone

      There is an LTE only band, looking at the radios in the LTE On/Off app…so perhaps?

  • Morlok8k

    i have great 4g coverage (full bars) where i live and work. until i get inside my work, as i work in a steel building, that full 4g signal becomes non-existent. i still get excellent 3g coverage inside.

    unless they add additional frequencies on LTE, (that would penetrate my steel building like 3g does) I would not want a LTE only phone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DaBiNkStA Bianca Gastelum

    Damn guys, cut Verizon a little credit. They’ll most likely introduce new price plans by 2015 offering more data for the same price just like they did last year. Means nothing to us with grandfathered unlimited plans but for general consumers it’ll work out great. I’ve seen a lot of people save money or get more for the same price they always paid. We’ll see what happens when lte is full implemented

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Schmucker/1498547350 Chris Schmucker

    So if the X-Phone is VoLTE would that mean that Google could sell it in the Play Store without having to go through Verizon?

    • AxemRed

      I doubt it. The X-Phone won’t be a Nexus. If it will really be on all vendors, they will probably handle it like Samsung did with the GS3.

  • jnt

    So what happens when I have my VoLTE device and walk in my office building and have to revert back to 3G? Trust me, I don’t care what Verizon’s LTE footprint looks like, I won’t get LTE in my building in 6 months… forgive me if that’s a technically ignorant question. I’m in one of the strongest LTE areas, and still have some indoor spots that revert back to 3G.

    • http://www.vgchartz.com SuperChunk

      IDK maybe not upgrade to a VoLTE phone until it does work in your office?

  • jb

    I wonder if HTC will get the first crack at a flagship phone for this situation since they got the first 4G phone. They could call it the HTC ThunderVoLTE. And it will be a colossal piece of crap.
    I tried to post this from my phone – but my Thunderbolt wouldn’t let me. Seriously.

  • Jonathan Rose

    I wonder if there would be anyway to spoof regular data traffic over LTE as VoLTE and thus essentially give tiered data plans unlimited data because to Verizon it would look like a voice call and minutes are unlimited

  • TheWenger

    What they don’t tell you is that the lower subsidies wouldn’t help the consumer at all. They’ll charge the same or more for the phones and service.

    These investor conferences are interesting because we get to see the real reason behind all of the things Verizon does. Same with all of the other Prime Evils for that matter.

  • Ihatenexus

    “VoLTE may be our second chance at having a Nexus that works on Verizon.”

    Are you on CRACK?

    “So the prices of phones would essentially drop and become more affordable to consumers.”

    Are you on CRACK?

  • peeyourownpants

    i thought we recently decided that this will kill battery

    • EraserXIV

      I think it’s the constant switching between CDMA and LTE that causes battery drain, that and the fact that you need 2 radios on at the same time in order to effectively do this. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

      Edit: Saw the link, hopefully they iron out the issues before they roll it out as it’s still a pretty new technology.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003972800082 Antonio Do Monte Jr.

    I live in Fall River, MA. The home of Lizzie Borden. The center of the city, aka City Hall has outstanding 4g coverage via verizon. the whole north end is a deadzone for 2g,3g and 4g. If I stand up and press my phone against the window, i can sometimes send a text. when the hell will this be patched? hopefully before they switch to an all LTE model. for the record, im about 15 min away from providence, RI. This service should not be this bad. I don’t live in the outback.

    • ToddAwesome

      Hey, the Lizzie Borden B&B portal just decayed in Ingress, go capture it will ya!

  • http://twitter.com/wolfman_moya Ryan Moya

    theyre also gonna need phones with some massive batteries packed in them for VoLTE

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003972800082 Antonio Do Monte Jr.

    or not drop and become more profitable to Verizon.

  • Brandon

    Please let this mean multi-band LTE phones will be available from Google.

    • AxemRed

      That’s my thought exactly. I doubt Google will release a CDMA Nexus ever again, but if they release a GSM/LTE Nexus this fall, I hope it also supports VoLTE on Verizon.

  • onDroid

    Obligatory Droid Volte incoming

    • Justin Winker

      I was thinking the same thing.. Who do you predict will manufacture said device? My guess is Moto.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      Is the e silent? :)

    • Brandon Golway

      I was just thinking that the X Phone may come with VoLTE and this would be the PERFECT name for it, and not a bad one either IMO.

  • S_T_R

    “Verizon Plans to Launch VoLTE Phones by End of This Year to Help INCREASE PROFIT MARGINS”

    -Fixed it for you. Really, really, s— work there. Regurgitating a pile of company bull while knowing full well the last thing Verizon is going to do is lower the amount of money you give them each month is beyond just lazy. This is your job, have a bit of pride.

  • DJyoSNOW

    I’ll have to see it to believe it. “we care more about what this means for Nexus and future device implications” say what vzw did not even pick up the last nexus wtf??

    • http://www.vgchartz.com SuperChunk

      vzw couldn’t get the last nexus as google only made GMS versions and so far vzw still requires the CDMA chip.

  • DC_Guy

    So voice over LTE means that everything is ALL data. So I’m assuming VZW will be reintroducing unlimited data plans, right? I mean I’m still rocking my grandfathered unlimited data plan but I can just imagine that THIS WILL NOT WORK for those on share everything plans.

    • Justin Winker

      I believe Voice Calls do not count toward your data limits. They should have some metric or measurement they can use to prevent that from being counted towards data limits (I read this somewhere, but I don’t have the site available).

  • bull3964

    So, phones will get cheaper but subsidies will become less (which makes the real cost to customers the same) and the service stays the same price or gets higher.

    Seems like the only one that’s benefiting from this is Verizon.

  • Zach Armstrong

    Hopefully this leads to unlocked LTE phone’s that can be used on any carrier.

    • Justin Winker

      It should – LTE is based off of a GSM service, isn’t it? Therefore, unlocked phones with the appropriate LTE bands should work on any carrier with LTE (as long as they allow unlocked devices).

  • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

    Frome The Verge article quotes, it sounds more like he was talking about at the end of 2014, not the end of 2013. And yes, by that time I’d fully expect Android to have VoLTE built-in at the OS level.

  • skinja99

    Questions:

    1. What is the cost of the CDMA hardware inside of a phone? It seems like maybe a few dollars worth of parts.

    2. Would this mean the 1X EVDO network would also be gone from the phones?
    I ask because in rural areas, I am constantly pick up the 1x network and not 3G. I suspect many of these places are not part of Verizon’s own network (probably some contract) and will not see LTE anytime soon.

    Thanks

    • Zach Armstrong

      Apparently CDMA radios cost a lot more than LTE or GSM radios.

      #2 Yes 1X and EVDO would be removed from your phone,plus they should have their entire footprint covered in 4G LTE by the end of this year. So that should take care of the 1x problem I assume.

      • Big_EZ

        I really don’t see them having all the rural areas with 1x or 3g covered by the end of the year, half of my city is still not covered and we had our first LTE rollout in June of 2011.

  • Robert Goddard

    Tegra 4i w/ VoLTE phones here we come? nVidia claims $100-$300 UNLOCKED

  • Joey

    ….there isn’t a need for a CDMA modem inside the device because voice and data are both done over LTE, so the cost of phones would essentially drop and become more profitable to carriers.

    there I fixed it

    • onDroid

      Exactly what I was thinking. There’s no way Verizon is cutting costs for the customers benefit. If they save $20 per phone, maybe, if we’re lucky, they will lower phone prices by a dollar. I don’t see them not carving out a little extra profit for themselves.

      • lgreg64

        they will not drop the cost of there service. it will cost you the same as it does today

        • onDroid

          I know they won’t drop the price of the service. That’s not where they will be saving money. IF they where to lower prices it would be on the cost of the phone at renewal. And no, they won’t actually lower the price there either.

          • droid

            and they call themselves a nonprofit…

          • JasonIvers

            Eventually they’ll save money on their network, as well, by dropping 1X & CDMA… won’t happen for some time, though.

      • duke69111

        This sounds like a cost increase to the customer, not a savings.

      • mgamerz

        You mean like this? Edit: It didn’t post the photo :( http://cache.blippitt.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Sale-Fail.gif

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      This.

  • zepfloyd

    Every time I see this guy in the news I can’t not see Kellex’s ShamWow comparison, haha. +1

  • schoat333

    As often as I drop to 3g, I would be hesitant to buy a LTE only VZW phone.

  • r0lct

    Hard to believe they will truly have the coverage this year considering how much I switch to 3G. I certainly can’t imagine being the first in line for those until the feedback from actual users come out based on coverage.

    • Jared

      That’s what I was thinking. I switch between 4G and 3G frequently in my office, depending on where my phone is sitting. I don’t think a pure LTE phone is feasible for a while, at least not in my neck of the woods. I thought 700 MHz was supposed to penetrate buildings really well (I could be wrong though), but in my experience, it hasn’t.

      • r0lct

        While 4G in my area has improved dramatically over the last year (especially switching from GNex to Note 2) until I go without seeing 3G ever within my normal routine I can’t see it.

        • Jared

          Exactly. I’m running the GNex, and I know that it has poor radios, but even family members with Bionics or Razrs have similar issues. It’s just not feasible like you said, when you see 3G fairly often through your normal routine. BTW, Verizon’s 3G is pitifully slow… I forget how bad it can be.

          • LionStone

            I rarely see 3G anymore on my DNA in the West coast Bay Area and on the East coast, Raleigh area. I’m ready for VoLTE.

          • Jared

            Perhaps where I live, things will get better soon too… We’ll see. I think VoLTE will be awesome, just hope that I’ll be able to stay connected.

          • LionStone

            Yes, well VZW is doing pretty well with their schedule and they have the whole rest of the year to upgrade a lot of areas still. Yep, I agree, it’ll be pretty nice!

          • Spencer

            Small world! I go to NC State and I am always connected to LTE, unless I’m inside one of the big halls on centennial campus.

            Looking forward to VoLTE for sure.

          • LionStone

            Cool man…yep even around Wake Forest the LTE is very good!

          • Trey Mitchell

            you are probably getting throttled when on 3g

          • Jared

            It makes me want to throttle someone, anyway… :)

          • http://twitter.com/romiust Romius T.

            No, CDMA for Verizon 3g is notoriously slow. the technology just doesn’t reach hspa speeds.

      • http://profiles.google.com/allen.j.yates Allen Yates

        It does penetrate buildings well. But for this same reason, the towers are very spread out at this point. They’re going to infill in populated areas with 1700 mhz aws. This should make fallbacks less frequent in populated areas over the next few years.

        • Jared

          Thanks, that explanation makes a lot of sense. I didn’t think I was crazy on that.

        • Brandon Golway

          I was going to agree with Jared because I’m in Mount Laurel, NJ (about 20 minutes away from Philadelphia) and I get LTE in my office but it’s only as measly .5-1.5 Mbps whereas outside in the parking lot I can easily get 12-15 Mbps. We have windows all along the outside of the building too so it’s not like I’m in an impenetrable concrete and steel jail. The signal is probably pretty weak and coming from Philly, although a co-worker said a VZW tower is right across the highway from us so IDK.

      • michael arazan

        Verizon’s 4G lte is only in city’s and towns with dense populations, get to a major highway and travel in between those cities and towns it is all 3G along the highways which means you won’t connect then. So if you’re out of range of a 4G tower and have car trouble or need to use GMaps you are screwed, it would seem. I travel between St.L and Chicago all the time it’s 90% 3G between them along the highway

        • Spencer

          GMaps can still work if you have a GPS in your phone…

    • AxemRed

      I’ve worried about the same thing. I switch to 3G a lot too, but I don’t know if it’s because there really is no LTE if it’s because the phone is hardcoded to switch to 3G on a low (but still perfectly usable) LTE signal more readily than I would like. I’m very interested in VoLTE, but I’ll be waiting for reviews too.

    • Brandon Golway

      I’m curious how this will start out, I’m sure that during the first year or so they won’t be pure VoLTE phones but ones that have a CDMA radio to fallback on if you leave an LTE area. I can imagine a lot of furious customers if the phones only had an LTE radio and there isn’t 100% LTE coverage because you’d pretty much have a paper weight in that case. Another idea just popped into my mind: in the absence of LTE one could use Wifi to make calls, which would be awesome.

  • Dave

    IF there were a VoLTE Nexus, then we probably won’t see one till next year. Unless Google has been collaborating with Verizon on one for a release at the end of this year, which is possible. What an awesome thought, however.

    • Justin Winker

      Please, not another GNex, not unless VZW agrees to step back and let Google do the updates on their terms.

      • Dave

        The open access rules for Verizon’s spectrum that they use for LTE requires that unlocked devices be allowed. The only reason they have a clamp down on current LTE smartphones are because they also utilize their closed off CDMA network. So, theoretically, Google could release a pure LTE device that Verizon would have to allow on their network. I imagine its why the Pixel sold from the Play Store has a LTE model that works on Verizon’s network.

        • Justin Winker

          That makes sense. I think, if they allow unlocked devices on their network (and a future Nexus supports VoLTE with multiple bands), I would switch back to them from StraightTalk’s AT&T provisioned Sim card. I loved Vzw’s network and the reliability and speed the LTE provided.

  • FreeLivin

    YAY…… so now we can spend more to make calls across data with out capped Data limits. When will it ever end on the carriers scamming us daily but trying to put out a sale pitch this is a good thing.

  • ßen Murphy

    Bigger batteries. That is all.

  • Greg Morgan

    I know this is inevitable, but until they fix the number of times my phone switches from 4g to 3g for no reason, they need to wait.

    • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

      That’s the isue though. Having both radios introduces a metric that needs to decide when the 3G signal is “better” than the 4G signal and switch. A pure-4G device doesn’t have that problem, and can be better optimized because of that fact. I can’t wait for the day that CDMA dies a lonely death and is finally refarmed to provide more LTE coverage/bandwidth.

      • Greg Morgan

        I thought I read somewhere that the issue was more specifically the SIM Cards and having to constantly be “connected” and that it always didn’t happen. When the SIM disconnected that’s when it would drop to 3G. But I could be way wrong.

  • Richard W

    Gimme X Phone!

    • JasonIvers

      X-Phone = First unlocked VoLTE phone? :)

  • chris125

    AKA take away unlimited and everything else so they can make even more huge profits than they do now.

    • Yep

      Bingo, which is why I have told all my family members to let their contracts expire, go month to month, and keep unlimited until it is taken away.

      Does anyone happen to know how much data per minute a VoLTE call consumes? I can’t seem to find any reliable numbers.

      • kirkmawa

        I’m fairly certain you won’t be billed for the “data” a VoLTE call uses as it never leaves VZW’s network.

        • guest

          HAHAHA… LOLOLOL…HAHAHA….***GASP*** HAHAHAHA.

          sorry. verizon not charging you to use the LTE Data? that’s a good one. VoLTE is “VoIP” so if you call from Cell to a “land line” the data has to leave VZWs LTE network.

          • Trey Mitchell

            I very seriously doubt they will count your calls against your data usage. similarly to how they don’t count those data reminders and other random text notifications from them against your text limit.

          • michael arazan

            And I’d seriously say they will figure out how to charge you for the calls and or put it against your data. Now they have unlimited calls, but once everything is volte, they will take away unlimited calls the same way they took away unlimited data. Verizon, “we’ll screw you again and again”

          • Trey Mitchell

            Look man if you don’t like what the company does then don’t subscribe to them I don’t always like what they do but the fact is they provide me the best service around and they did give me a way to keep my unlimited data so I did and I’m happy with the service I receive. at some point they may do something that makes me end my relationship with them and that’s a shame but all this hate isn’t helpful. Don’t like it? vote with your wallet.

          • kirkmawa

            The data does not leave their IP network. It is translated to the PSTN internally and is no longer data traffic at that point.

      • burkett375

        I read somewhere that even if you talked on the phone for 8 hrs a day that the total for a month would be like 350MB. I’ll have to scrounge up the article, but basically, it’s a very efficient technology.

        • Yep

          Thanks @burkett375:disqus ; @17c6799c6d74f7385b3279142e1966e6:disqus for the info, much appreciated.

      • whoa

        Data usage depends on codec used if it is amr-wb they can get it down to IIRC 24kbps if they want to pay royalties to whoever owns the patents. 24 Kbps = 10.546875 megabytes per hour

        • whoa

          Edit: codec&bitrate

        • whoa

          According to AMR-wb wikipedia site http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_Multi-Rate_Wideband#section_1 :

          “AMR-WB operates, like AMR, with nine different bit rates. The lowest bit rate providing excellent speech quality in a clean environment is 12.65 kbit/s. Higher bit rates are useful in background noise conditions and for music. Also lower bit rates of 6.60 and 8.85 kbit/s provide reasonable quality especially if compared to narrow band codecs.”