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Clearer calls ahead: T-Mobile rolls out voice-over-LTE, starting in Seattle

T-Mobile painted Seattle pink on Thursday, as it launched its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service in its hometown. The Uncarrier announced that it will roll out the service to the rest of the U.S. over the course of 2014. Rival carrier AT&T will debut its VoLTE in multiple cities on Friday and Verizon says it plans to add the service sometime soon.

The new VoLTE service will provide significantly better call quality and the signal will travel at much faster speeds. Traditionally, GSM and CDMA use the old-school circuit switching technique to handle calls. This method is not only inefficient, it also results in less than stellar call quality. In contrast, VoLTE turns your calls into a different data stream, which is then sent over the carrier’s IP technology.

One of the main benefits of VoLTE is the HD Voice feature, which ensures crystal clear communication, whether you’re on speakerphone, using a headset, or holding the phone to your ear. So, basically, there will be no more shouting during conference calls, and no more “what what?! I can’t hear you!” or lost signals.

“VoLTE is the next major advancement in LTE and essentially brings both data and voice onto the same radio layer, as it should be,” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in a statement.“Customer benefits include faster call setup times (almost twice as fast as a non-VoLTE call setup) and the ability to enjoy lightning fast LTE data speeds while on a call. HD Voice service is also included with VoLTE. We’ve been offering nationwide HD Voice since January 2013 – something our competitors couldn’t do without VoLTE.”

Unfortunately, T-Mobile’s VoLTE will only be available on the LG G Flex, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and Samsung Galaxy Light to start. The Uncarrier did say that it plans to add more devices to that list soon, as well as extend the service to more cities across the United States.

Meanwhile, AT&T announced that it will debut VoLTE in select parts of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin on May 23. It’s new service will also be limited to just one device on launch day: the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Talk about a limited launch! AT&T promises that it will rollout HD voice calls to more devices and cities this year, too. Verizon has made the vague promise of adding VoLTE sometime this year.

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