T-Mobile Voice over LTE live in Seattle

tmobile-lte

Only recently we’d heard reports that Voice over LTE was on its way to T-Mobile. What that means is that instead of your device dropping to an older network technology to connect your calls, it’ll instead use the LTE network. Which is pretty fantastic news, especially considering the areas currently being refarmed from EDGE to LTE, and the fact that T-Mo is going to be killing off its 2G network over the next couple of years.

In a blog post today, Neville Ray the company’s Chief Technology Officer announced that VoLTE is going live in Seattle. If you’re in Seattle, you can take advantage now, all you need is the right device. If you have an LG G Flex, Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy Light, you’ll be able to take advantage of the new network. All you have to do is go to “Settings”, “General” and “About Device” and grab the latest software update.

As posted by Ray:

VoLTE is the next major advancement in LTE and essentially brings both data and voice onto the same radio layer, as it should be. Customer benefits include faster call setup times (almost twice as fast as a non-VoLTE call setup) and the ability to enjoy lightening 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.  
 
If you’re like me and love digging into the underlying science, here’s how it works. (If this doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip this bit.) VoLTE calls will be carried over IP on our LTE network instead of a circuit-switched path on our 4G HSPA+ network. This is advantageous because your phone stays on our wicked fast LTE network to make a call. The tricky bit in all this is the smooth mobility between our various radio layers. Enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) is a new LTE Advanced function and we’re excited to be the first to deploy it in the U.S. All of this basically helps ensure that your capable phone won’t drop a call if you leave an LTE area and it switches to 4G HSPA+ or 2G coverage.”

T-Mobile’s network improvements are very much “full steam ahead”. We’re hearing increasing reports of EDGE networks being replaced by LTE in a few markets, and with VoLTE also going live over the coming months, it’s exciting times ahead.

Via: T-Mobile

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  • NOYB

    That’s right! Beat all the other major carriers to the punch! Ha, ha!

    • NOYB

      Actually, the death star already launched it earlier this month. But it only works on one of their phones.

      • kyo251

        Yes they did but it’s launching tomorrow, t mobile just had to one up them

        • Jared

          Technically MetroPCS has done VoLTE for years, just not in HD voice. So T-Mobile technically beat them by a couple years. http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/07/metropco-volte-network-launch-live-dallas-connect-4g-android/

        • kyo251

          MetroPCS did not t mobile, t mobile don’t even claim it much. But it wouldn’t surprise me if t mobile use metro volte data and information to better understand, tweak volte before they launch it nationwide.
          Anyways t mobile launched it a day before att

      • fsured

        I though At&t was releasing HD voice this month. Not voice over LTE. I probably read the article wrong.

    • Cam Bunton

      Verizon announced VoLTE earlier this week/month. Haven’t checked on status.. but it’s announced.

      • Alex Zapata

        If I remember correctly Verizon announced that their VoLTE implementation will not only be compatible between carriers, but will also allow for video calling. Something about that smells like RCS to me. Any word on whether TMO will also implement video calling?

  • James Shaggy

    This is great news, so in the next 18 months we should see this expand to almost nation wide.

  • Jay J. Blanco

    Do my GS4 support VoLte? if not that sucks..

    • ac21365

      Most LTE devices released in the last year or so support it, yes. Whether T-Mobile will update/activate it on whatever particular branded device you have, different story.

      I don’t see why they wouldn’t on most of their popular recent phones…

      • Jay J. Blanco

        Hope this don’t be like the GS3 LTE fiasco.

        • superg05

          yawn once again back then t-mobile did not have there lte band frequency picked until around the time when the note 2 was announced

  • Naruto44

    That’s going be great once we got 700mhnz, better coverage, better building penetration and without lose are call, that’s gorgeous T-Mobile.
    Ps.: maybe this is a signal about 700mhz is even more closer than we are thinw

  • Alex Zapata

    And this just made my day.

  • Verizonthunder

    Awesome T-Mobile currently using the LG g flex and what a modern proof smartphone

  • JosephLagalla

    Any chance of this expanding to the M8?

    • Cam Bunton

      As far as I know, it only requires a software update. Happy to be corrected, but most of the flagship LTE phones should have the hardware, they just need the little bit of code to tell the chip that it can make calls now too.

      • JosephLagalla

        Cheers

      • superg05

        htc has know under-sight but heres to hope for the ma8s

  • Aurizen

    Does this work, for iphone? I believe it support VoLTE right?

    • Verizonthunder

      Hell no lol

      • TechHog

        Source?

        • Verizonthunder

          Well it does not support WiFi calling or hd voice so what makes you think that particular iPhone will support volte???

        • TechHog

          It supports it on other carriers?

        • Verizonthunder

          We are talking about tmobile not other carriers

        • TechHog

          We’re talking about VoLTE, not Wi-Fi calling

        • Aurizen

          so tmobile can push out a update and it support volte?

        • Fr0stTr0n

          Only if the phone has the right chipset built in which the Iphones do not.

        • Daniel Darnell

          The iPhone 5 actually does support HD voice, not only is it on T-Mobile’s list of HD devices but I have the iPhone 5 myself and I have had calls on HD the superior quality to voice is quite obvious when you are on it.

    • Alex Zapata

      If you’re referring to the 5S/5C there’s nothing stopping them from supporting VoLTE. It’s really up to Apple though. Even the 5 has the capability to support it as far as I know.

      • Cam Bunton

        Yeah, I imagine there’ll be a carrier update for iPhone users at some point.

  • Adrayven

    Will be interesting to see what devices they activate for VoLTE.. I know the iPhone 5s and GS4 also support it.. interesting to see both absent from the list.

    Looks like they went with devices with a smaller customer base? Maybe thats why?

    • TMOguy

      The devices supported are in the blog release.
      Note 3, Galaxy light and G flex only at this time.
      More to be released later.

      • Adrayven

        I know.. I was speculating that they only did those because they were few to give T-Mo a small base to start with.. I imagine GS4′s and iPhone 5s are in much larger number and could overwhelm the new VoLTE service..

  • Jay J. Blanco

    I see a DUAL 4G HD calling blitz

  • James Shaggy

    Will this effect the amount of data used because if it does then people on data allowance will be screwed if they dont have unlimited data.

    • besweeet

      I don’t think it counts towards your data.

    • Cam Bunton

      No, I can’t imagine it will. It’s not data, it’s a call using the LTE network. The same way that a call made over 3G isn’t data.

    • xmiro

      false. VoLTE does not count toward your data allotment

  • TMOguy

    Has anybody actually been able to do the software update to enable this? The news release says it’s available today.
    I have a note 3, I am here in Seattle, and it says the device is up to date and no upgrade is available.
    I also went through Samsung Kies and it says the device is up to date as well.
    (and yes, I’m doing it correctly.. Power user).

    Anybody have luck?

    • Fr0stTr0n

      Software is likely gonna take awhile, im in no big rush personally and yes, I live in the area as well

    • Cam Bunton

      Interesting. Give us an update if you manage to get it downloaded.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    The downside of LTE is that it requires much more power than GSM. But I wonder if the PCS radio is shut off then since calls are handled by the LTE radio, thus actually saving battery.

    • Fabian Cortez

      Huh?

      PCS radio? Less battery life? What are you talking about?

      VoLTE offers battery improvements over UMTS and therefore GSM.

    • fsured

      I read awhile back that voice over LTE will draw more power from batteries since it is using the LTE network. I keep my phone on HSPA+ and get extra battery life than when I keep it on LTE The speed of the network is fine for what I need and still allows me to remote into my home computer through tethering. Hopefully technology has advanced enough to help combat the battery drain. These Samsung/LG phones may have large batteries which is why they are going first with the update.

    • TMOTECH

      It is not that an LTE radio consumes more power. It is that the GSM, HSPA and the LTE radio are all working at the same time. This is so you can hand into other networks when the LTE or UMTS network signal gets weak. The handset needs to talk to all networks at the same time so it can transition. That is why LTE handsets eat up more power. Also they eat up power if there is no LTE because it is always searching for one.

      • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

        Not really. The GSM and the HSPA radios are the one and same (that’s the beauty of UMTS, it has a voice circuit carved out of the data stream). If the signal strength is strong enough for LTE, then its radio is turned on, but only then. But then the GSM/HSPA radio remains on in order to receive calls because TMO uses different bands for HSPA and LTE. And, no, the phone doesn’t need to search for LTE, when it’s available it’s told so by the tower via the GSM radio.

  • Paul

    I remember hearing that they were going to move this direction. Glad to see it’s going live. I look forward to seeing in the Dallas area.

  • Liam

    I would assume this is something that will work on the iPhone 5/5s/5c as soon as they push out a carrier update right? They already support HD Voice.

    Question about VoLTE. Does this only work with phones on the T-Mobile network like HD Voice currently does?

    If I call someone on AT&T who is on 4G (like an iPhone 4s for example), will it still be voice over LTE because my phone is on LTE?

    • TMOguy

      The other person does not need to have VoLTE for your call to be VoLTE. Not like HD calling.
      Source: T-Community Q&A on VoLTE

      • Trevnerdio

        Does it still sound as good as HD voice?

        • maximus1901

          No. If other person doesn’t have wamr, both ends sound no better.

    • Delusion_FTL

      Not likely as the handset would need to support eSRVCC. While i’m no expert in Apple radio and baseband programming, it’s a pretty safe bet that the iphone doesn’t have it yet. But, I could be wrong.

    • Cam Bunton

      Yes. This is simply a way for your phone to use its LTE connection to make phone calls. The other person could be using a 10-year old phone, and it’d make no difference to your initial connection.

      At the moment your phone will use a 2G, EDGE or HSPA connection to make calls, depending what coverage is available. This is no different. It just means – once it’s available everywhere – that T-Mo has no further use for its older networks.

      • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

        The other end could be a land-line, it would still work VoLTE from your end and twisted-pair of wires at the other end.

        • maximus1901

          But it wouldn’t have hd voice

        • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

          Indeed, HD Vocie requires end-to-end VoLTE. Which makes me wonder if HD is only guaranteed from a TMO subscriber to another one, if there must be collaboration between different carriers to not downgrade the HD when switching networks.

    • Trevnerdio

      What Delusion said. If only 3 very new Android phones support it, it’ll probably be a little bit before iPhones do.

  • Durandal_1707

    Is T-Mobile VoLTE able to hand-off with Wi-Fi Calling, now that everything’s all IP-based?

    Also, do VoLTE phone calls count against your data allotment the way WCDMA calls don’t?

    • Alex Zapata

      I’ve actually been wondering that myself. I would love it if we could have handoff to/from WiFi again!

    • Bradley Smith

      and at what point will Wi-Fi Calling go away?

      • Trevnerdio

        He means handoff if you go out of WiFi range and have to fall over to LTE, or if you decide to turn on WiFi in the middle of a call.

      • Durandal_1707

        I don’t think Wi-Fi Calling will go away any time soon. It’s a great differentiating feature vs. the other carriers, and T-Mobile is well aware of that.

        • maximus1901

          Sprint has it too now. Tmus has no monopoly on wifi calling. Any carrier could enable it but vzw and att already have low band lte, 3G voice so no need.

        • Durandal_1707

          While that’s true, Sprint’s Wi-Fi calling implementation is not nearly as nice as T-Mobile’s. It requires you to individually authorize Wi-Fi networks in order to use Wi-Fi Calling with them, whereas T-Mobile’s just works. Also, T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling can be used from anywhere, even overseas, allowing you to call home for free when you’re traveling, something that Sprint’s doesn’t allow.

          I’ve also read that Sprint’s implementation requires a CDMA signal to establish the Wi-Fi Calling connection, which would seem to completely defeat the whole purpose — can anyone confirm or deny this? It seems too ridiculous to be true, but then, one never knows.

          As for Verizon and AT&T, having low-band LTE doesn’t obviate the need for Wi-Fi Calling, because it only works in places where you have a low-band LTE signal. In places where the signal doesn’t exist or is weak (and yes, those places exist, Verizon isn’t magic), Wi-Fi Calling is a great help. Or would be, if they had it.

          Finally, Wi-Fi Calling can also alleviate stress on the network, allowing data speeds to be faster for everyone. So, it’s an all-around win-win.

        • Alex Zapata

          True, though you need a cell signal for Sprint’s WiFi calling and it only works within their native coverage map. TMO’s will work just fine in a different country or even on another continent.

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    So HTC One M8 is out of the loop :(

    • Evan Lam

      Well based off of the article, so is the Samsung Galaxy S5. I’m sure these two devices will get it later on, T-Mobile just decided to start with these three phones.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        Hopefully an ota can get it out

        Wishing 700mhz tho

  • Don Kim

    VoLTE = Battery drain

    • niftydl

      New chipsets will take care of the battery problem, just like 3G was a big battery drain when it first launched.

      • besweeet

        Without knowing any of the technical things, shouldn’t VoLTE be better on battery life?

  • Deadeye37

    Well, that’s a kick in the proverbial technology crotch for Sprint, AT&T, & Verizon! VoLTE, 20X20 LTE, and EDGE being converted to LTE makes this a very exciting time for T-mobile! Now, they just need to get that spectrum & towers so that we can get great coverage everywhere!

    • tmouser91

      At&t already said they had volte live in a few markets before this was announced.

  • Fr0stTr0n

    I would sure hope so seeings how I live in freaking T-Mobiles headquarters city

  • itguy08

    I say this as a T-Mobile user and shareholder.

    STOP WITH THIS JUNK.

    #1. Your first priority needs to be getting 2G and GPRS areas up to at least HPSA+ speeds and improving the depth. That’s it. Throw every available resource at it!!! That needs to be your priority for the next 12-24 months. Period, end of story. Don’t stop until every site is upgraded and some of the dead zones are filled in.

    Not VoLTE which is pointless until #1 is complete!!!

    • UMA_Fan

      Actually VoLTE is critical since their new 700mhz A block license essentially solves building penetration signal issues as well as rural coverage that serve GPRS now. Its just not economical to have HSPA and LTE in rural areas with their older spectrum. Once they deploy 700mhz in more places those customers can actually use their phones for calling in 700mhz LTE areas

    • Cam Bunton

      You know T-Mobile announced recently that it would be shutting down its 2G networks in favour of LTE? Old networks are being refarmed. But there’s a lot of juggling to do with spectrum/networks beforehand. VoLTE technology enables them to start switching off those older networks and get the process going..

      • maximus1901

        They’re not gonna switch off their Hspa for a loooong time and TMO has plenty of room on Hspa for w-amr. Original poster was right: this is a waste of time and money.
        With no low band deployed, the phones will constantly drop from volte to wcdma voice. TMO’s AWS density is nowhere near to e able to even sustain lte inside buildings much less a consistent volte connection. Complete pr move and waste of time till they get 700a deployed.

        • Evan Lam

          No one said that T-Mobile was shutting off their HSPA network. 2G is EDGE and GPRS. T-Mobile consider;s the HSPA+ network to be 4G but most say that it is “3.75G” or “3.9G”.

      • maximus1901

        They’re not sitting down anything. They’re reframing MOST of spectrum.

      • Moby

        You can’t produce a single press release from T-Mobile saying they were “shutting down its 2G networks”. Yes, they have said they are rolling out LTE to areas that currently don’t have it. But NOTHING was mentioned about when their current 2G networks would be shut down.

    • Eric

      Do you understand what T-Mobile is doing to improve their network?

      1) All EDGE towers will be upgraded to LTE (and most will have HSPA+ too).
      2) 700 MHz will enable T-Mobile to have excellent coverage in major cities.
      3) VoLTE will enable faster calls and the ability to use LTE while calling.
      4) T-Mobile is preping for the 600 MHz auction, and if they buy a nation-wide license for that, AT&T and Verizon are done.
      5) 2×15 and 2×20 to more sites, with more backhaul.

      With much more network upgrades and announcements to come.

      • itguy08

        Yes I understand fully.
        #1 and #2 on your list need to be laser focus for them!
        #3 is nice to have.

        #4 is critical for areas where they have no 700a.

        #5 is nice to have as well

      • gentleman559

        Sadly, AT&T and Verizon will NEVER be done. Lets keep this in perspective.

    • itguy08

      You guys are missing the point. Yes, I know they are re-doing the 2G stuff. But that needs to be their main focus as well as filling in the gaps in areas they do serve. That should be their ONLY focus.

      There is no reason they can’t light up a small GSM carrier on 700 Mhz for calls. GSM Voice takes very little bandwidth and could easily fit in their 700A spectrum. VoLTE solves none of that.

      I realize the pitfalls of 1900 Mhz and yes, it costs a lot to do rural with it. But T-Mobile has lots of those sites that need upgraded YESTERDAY. Heck, some areas that are not rural which have great PCS1900 coverage are still on EDGE! AT&T, Verizon, and SPRINT(!) have put 3G in there yet T-Mo is still on EDGE.

      And then there are areas (Central PA) where they have no 700a so they need to beef up PCS1900. It works good here but there are some dead zones that even Sprint(!) have seen fit to invest in new towers!

      It’s that focus on the network that they need – they have the prices, they have the speed, and they have the momentum. I’d rather see them sacrifice a little LTE speed (say in 700a) for a better network.

      • maximus1901

        There are no phones that do anything but lte in 700mhz. You can’t put a edge or wcdma carrier in 700mhz just because your phone supports lte there.

        • itguy08

          There are no phones that support 700a so that could easily be in T-Mobile’s RFQ for the phones….

          UMTS supports Band 12, same as LTE…

        • D_Wall__

          Id hate to see your complaints if they had not progressed as much as they have in the last few years. Give it time.

        • itguy08

          I’m content with them stating “we’re working on it” and “we have all hands on deck”. When you then roll out other things that should be a little down the pike it’s not that good.

        • D_Wall__

          Im pretty positive they are doing whats best for Tmo. While some may not agree. They have a business to run and keep fresh and launch processes before a Competitor can so they can call it a first. If their business plan doesnt work for you. Their are other carriers that may.

        • itguy08

          And calling VoLTE a first helps anyone how? Heck, having VoLTE helps how?

          Head over to T-Mobile support and the coverage section. There are enough daily complaints about coverage that they should work to address. Verizon did a great PR thing with “Can you Hear Me Now?”, as did AT&T with “Mark the Spot”. T-Mobile says “We’re working on it”. And instead of saying “Hey, we deployed 500 new cell sites this year” we get “We deployed VoLTE to a few phones in 1 small city”.

          That’s my whole beef and it’s not even a huge one but I think they could better use their resources increasing the depth of the network. Rather than the RF engineers playing with VoLTE they could be figuring out how to get additional cells deployed to deepen coverage, get DAS’s in more places, etc.

          I like their business plan and what they are doing so much I invested in the company. So it clearly does work for me. But like everything in life there are things that you won’t agree with.

    • Trevnerdio

      You’ve missed the last few news bits, I think…

    • Moby

      First priority? I don’t ever see “2G” service currently and I could not care less when they get around to upgrading some farm town to HSPA+. My priorities are faster LTE speeds and VoLTE so that I don’t have to drop down HSPA+ to make a call. T-Mobile has their priorities straight. If you’re getting 2G that you don’t like, take your business to another carrier.

      • maximus1901

        Then you must not leave Central Park cause I’m a TMO user and when I leave my suburb, BAM! I get edge in Detroit Ann Arbor cma

        • Moby

          I travel to many metro areas around the country. But you’re right, I haven’t been to Detroit—maybe next time I’m in the market for a $5,000 deserted house.

        • maximus1901

          Detroit suburbs + Ann Arbor have plenty high income.

        • Jermaine Coakley Sr.

          @maximus1901:disqus I live in Detroit area and I don’t get edge. What area in particular? I’m curious.

      • itguy08

        I’m not talking farm town.

        How about this one: Carlisle, PA. Population ~ 20k. MAJOR transpiration hub for the Northeast USA. Most of your major companies have warehouses here because it’s 3 hours from NYC, 2 from DC, 1 from Baltimore, 8 from Boston, etc. Suburb of the state capital. 100% EDGE.

        Or the PA Turnpike, you know a major transportation corridor. Most of which is EDGE.

        Sprint, Verizon, AT&T all have seen fit to wire this area up with 3G and LTE. T-Mobile has a fine voice network here, just needs to get it up to speed on the data side.

        Or even upstate NY where NYC folks go – lots of 2G there as well. Or even parts of central MD.

        • superg05

          instead of complaining tell t-mobile write the ceo on twitter do something productive with these rage fueled ideas find the tell t-mobile site all your doing is wasting good energy here

      • jeremyvbk

        How about a city of 100k barely has usuable LTE, crappy Wcdma, and a ton of edge. A county of 150k is mostly edge, even after the maps report LTE in most of it. They have a Ton of work here to do

    • maximus1901

      Their 1st priority is convincing fcc to allow sprint to buy them, did you miss all statements by CEO an CFO of tmus

      • Moby

        Their statements about Sprint have been that they don’t anticipate a merger will get approved at this time. So they are not looking to convince the FCC now. They are looking to build out their network as they have planned.

        • maximus1901

          Could’ve sworn TMO execs keep on using phrases like “uncarrier on steroids”, obliquely referencing sprint merger. Hmmm.

        • philyew

          Carter also said the key was proving that the merger would enhance competition. Easier said than done. Particularly when he undermines it all by talking about being able to reach a 50% margin as a result of such a merger, which is the complete antithesis of Uncarrier.

        • maximus1901

          There was just a story that on democratic fcc member pondered the merits of allowing merger.
          2 repubs + 1 dem = majority

        • philyew

          The same two GOP members that take care of AT&T and Verizon in other decisions? Not really likely they are going to enable a third competitor is it?

        • Moby

          The Department of Justice also has to approve the deal. Perhaps you missed the results of their January meeting with Son as reported by tmonews: “The conversation, which occurred in January, signals the seriousness of Mr. Son’s interest in a deal, but also underscores his highest hurdle. U.S. antitrust authorities believe the current lineup of four national carriers is important to maintaining a competitive market, and department officials indicated at the meeting that a deal combining Sprint and T-Mobile could face regulatory difficulties, the people said”

    • randomnerd_number38

      I disagree that enabling voice over LTE is a waste of time and money. Yes, there should be a laser focus on getting the LTE coverage up and running everywhere. T-mobile does have a laser focus on that and has committed to having all 2G areas upgraded by mid-2015. But many areas already have great coverage and almost all towers modernized. Why should network upgrades in those places completely halt waiting for other regions to get LTE? I’m no network engineer, but it seems to me that having your engineers in Seattle sit on their thumbs while waiting for the engineers in South Carolina to install the LTE equipment is pretty inefficient.

      • maximus1901

        TMO doesn’t have AWS lte density high enough anywhere to be able to stay on volte while driving, for example. You need low band for this to be useful.

        • philyew

          If you’re on LTE and not moving, it will stay connected. If you’re moving and travel outside an LTE-enabled site, it will hand off, so what’s the problem?

    • Kidney_Thief

      I’m extremely curious what makes you think that T-Mobile is losing their focus on rolling out LTE nationwide.

      • Tyler Kirchman

        They are modernizing their entire network and most likely getting ready to shut down 2g for the additional spectrum add

    • philyew

      How do you know that the resource skills required to enable this function could be re-deployed elsewhere in a way that could expedite activities in the LTE deployment project?

      How do you know that the time expended on this could have been effectively used on the LTE deployment project to shorten the Project cycle?

      Just because the people have relevant skills doesn’t mean they could be deployed on the critical path activities in such a way as to alter the delivery timeline.

      • itguy08

        Look at their maps of 2G areas and tell me that all their RF engineers are done with the plans to modernize them and I’ll believe it. But I don’t think that’s the case. Maybe they do have plans for all the cell sites but I doubt it.

        • philyew

          The critical path activities are still going to be at the site and delivering the backhaul. Neither of which will directly involve their network design team.

          They demonstrated that they can execute refarming plans very quickly when prepping for the initial LTE program. That involved 37,000 cell sites. This time it only involves 14,000 cell sites, but some of the logistics will be more time consuming, so the burden on the network management team is less intense.

          In my view, there is time and good reason to develop the VoLTE capability and this is good news.

        • Durandal_1707

          Some of those 2G areas likely can’t be converted to LTE without having VoLTE already in place, so requiring the LTE refarm to be complete before implementing VoLTE is just going to set up a Catch-22 type situation.

    • Durandal_1707

      Absolutely they should be focusing on converting 2G areas to LTE. The trouble with that, though, is that in some of those areas, T-Mo might not have enough spectrum to run 2G and LTE at the same time with good performance.

      If only there was a way to run the whole shebang over LTE so it wouldn’t be necessary to have 2G clogging up the airwaves… hmm…

      • philyew

        Excellent point. They aren’t deploying AWS on those sites, so their ability to run voice and data on PCS is critical.

      • TMOguy

        Yes, they do. You don’t need much spectrum in rural areas. Here in Seattle, T-Mobile has 30mhz of PCS (1900) spectrum.
        Do you know how much spectrum it takes to run 2G? One GSM channel is 200khz wide. That’s 5 channels per 1mhz.
        The LTE in rural areas will be a 5X5 bandwidth signal. That will take up 10mhz. That’s still 20mhz left to run the GSM. Which is plenty.
        And – in rural areas, it’s not like you have thousands and thousands connecting on one cell site. It’s totally different then an urban area.

        But yes – I agree, they just need to do it! The biggest issue is actually backhaul. A lot of sites are just twisted copper pair wire of one T-1 line. For speed you need fiber, and it doesn’t even exist in some areas.

        • Durandal_1707

          Good to know that there’s so much spectrum in Seattle, and that the situation in the entire US is exactly the same as it is in Seattle (or that Seattle is the only 2G area in the US that needs upgrading).

          Upgrading the *entire* 2G network means upgrading it *everywhere*, including places like, say, Lincoln, Nebraska, where according to the FCC’s Spectrum Dashboard, T-Mobile only has 10 MHz of PCS there, and that’s all they’ve got.

        • TMOguy

          Well yes but Lincoln Nebraska has 40mhz of AWS spectrum. They can easily run an LTE network there on that and the area can be covered. Lincoln is not New York City – they don’t need 100+mhz of spectrum to cover the population there.

        • philyew

          Except that they said they were going to do this phase using existing site hardware and PCS, not AWS.

          Maybe they will decide to deploy AWS after all in locations where they are highly constrained on PCS…or maybe – since they have now begun deploying VoLTE – they won’t feel the need to do a full site refit.

        • Durandal_1707

          Well, 20 MHz of AWS, not 40 MHz, according to the FCC Spectrum Dashboard. But anyway, like philyew said, the plan is to refarm existing PCS, not to set up new AWS service. And really, which do you think would be more cost-effective:

          a) setting up a whole new AWS network — keeping in mind that the 2145 MHz downlink is at an even higher frequency than the PCS band, so it’ll probably have to be spaced even closer together — and doing this for every tiny Lincoln, Nebraska type place that exists in their network, or:

          b) just setting up VoLTE, and using it in every Lincoln, Nebraska type place with the existing network and the existing towers in their existing spacing, and shutting off the crappy 2G that everyone hates by now anyway.

          Which do you think would cost less money? Which do you think could be done more quickly? Which do you think has a better chance of realistically allowing T-Mobile to complete this project?

    • Fr0stTr0n

      Switch carriers, you’ll be happier.

      • itguy08

        Considering I switched TO T-Mobile, I’m happy.

        If you think they have no room for improvement, you are a fanboi.

        • Fr0stTr0n

          Your also just a complainer

        • itguy08

          No, just not a blind fanboi.

    • superg05

      your stupid the function for volte was already in there lte-a hardware they need to test the software it before they flipped the switch so not really wasting resources

      • itguy08

        You are stupid. IF you think they just flip the switch you are an idiot. You have to test, test, and test some more.

        • superg05

          sounds like testing is done baka

    • Jarobusa

      Did you read the article? “We’re hearing increasing reports of EDGE networks being replaced by LTE in a few markets”

      • itguy08

        Oooh, a few markets. Take a look at their 2G map and get back to me. It’s going to take more than a few markets to get that done. Which is why all hands on deck is needed, not diversions to beat AT&T.

        • Lte12345

          You have to start somewhere. Where I live, the conversion to LTE has begun. Like any company they’re not going to announce something that isn’t complete.

        • Lte12345

          Also, they won a very important battle in that there will be regulations on the next spectrum auction that will allow them to get the spectrum they need in order to convert everything to LTE. T-Mobile is all-in on this, but it takes time.

        • TMOLOYAL

          The important thing about VoLTE is that is will lower the cost of upgrading/expanding the network. Right now when T-Mobile upgrades a site they go from the old ground based 2G/GSM network to a tower top system including GSM/U1900/U2100 and LTE to be able to give you the fast LTE and still the ability to make phone calls on the UMTS/WCDMA systems and they have to keep the GSM around for now for all of the people who will not give up and get a smart phone. If they can get VoLTE rolled out nationally, they can just worry about launching LTE only because it can handle the voice and data without having a need for the underlying network layers.

          As a fellow shareholder and customer I see this as a huge win.

        • itguy08

          That makes 0 sense. The current infrastructure they deploy in both Ericsson and Nokia markets broadcasts on all those bands and technologies. It’s all done in software. Turn on LTE, turn on GSM, turn on UMTS. It’s not separate hardware any more. So the additional cost to them to enable the other stuff is 0 where they have the spectrum. And even then in the markets that are still 2G, mainly rural markets it makes sense to deploy HSPA since that signal is more robust than LTE.

          VoLTE is nice and is the future but when the vast majority of your network can’t use it you need to focus on improving the network for those that can.

        • philyew

          You seem to be missing that the upgrade to LTE in some 2G-only markets is going to be done without deploying the new hardware at the cell sites. That’s why they are doing it using PCS, not AWS.

        • itguy08

          How do you figure no hardware? Sure some may support re-use but I’d bet a majority of the sites that are rural or older will need lots of upgrades.

          Take the GPRS/EDGE site near my
          house. It’s a monopole on a power line. 3 slim panels wrapped around
          the pole. How are they going to do MIMO (required on LTE) with that
          aincient hardware? At minimum an antenna upgrade (most likely RRU) will
          need to take place. Most likely need a new cabinet too.

          They are going to do a whole lot of hardware replacements to go from GPRS/EDGE to LTE.

        • philyew

          I didn’t say “no new hardware”, just not the latest Ericsson or NSN equipment that they put into the first phase network modernization program. There will be some site work needed, but some of the Ericsson equipment deployed in the last 5 years will, apparently, support upgrade to LTE with much less investment.

          If they were going to do a full refit at every site, given that they have nationwide AWS license coverage, why has there been zero mention of deploying HSPA+ in any of the 2G-only markets, as they have been doing routinely wherever they have installed the new Ericsson and NSN equipment?

        • TMOLOYAL

          Because they do not need to deploy HSPA+/UMTS if they have VoLTE. They will modernize the 2g and add LTE.

          The reason why they are using 1900 or “PCS” instead of 2100 or “AWS” is so they can use the same antennas that have been on top of the tower running 2G. If they do not have to swap the antennas that are frequency specific it speeds the process up by about 90% and saves a ton of money.

        • itguy08

          How do they handle the MIMO requirement for LTE? Was my understanding you needed new antennas for that.

        • TMOLOYAL

          The sites will initially have 2×2 or 2×4 MIMO with the existing antennas. Once everything is up they can go back and start upgrading to tower top solutions with 4×2 or 4×4 MIMO.

        • philyew

          That’s what I was saying LOL

        • TMOguy

          You hit it right on. The reason LTE is going on 1900 in the 2G markets only is speed to deployment and lower cost. If they put it on the 1900 they don’t have to climb the tower at all. It’s all cabinet upgrade only. If they deploy AWS where they never had it before they have to upgrade the antenna, put up a new TMA (tower mounted amplifier, which is that small square box you see just behind the antenna)

        • philyew

          I’m not sure your first reason is entirely true. I think the second is the real issue, and makes the first a moot point, but as they are still introducing new devices that aren’t LTE-enabled (e.g. ZTE Concord II and LG Optimus L90), I do think they would add HSPA+ to the service IF it was do-able. Without UMTS-capable equipment, it isn’t.

        • Logan S

          “.. why has there been zero mention of deploying HSPA+” Perhaps because announcing HSPA+ is foolish and makes them look bad, when all the marketing department wants is more of the 3-letter.

        • philyew

          Perhaps that’s true but, as has been confirmed by a TM field engineer here, the primary reason is that wherever possible they are re-using existing 2G antennae to reduce the cost and execution time of the upgrade. Doing that means that they will be using PCS spectrum not AWS.

          My point was that, if they were doing the upgrade using entirely new tower and base station equipment and able to utilize the AWS licenses that they have across the country, then they would also be enabling HSPA+ everywhere to serve the millions of customers who haven’t yet upgraded to LTE-enabled devices. If I’m not mistaken, some of the newly announced low-end devices still don’t support LTE.

          I wasn’t suggesting that they would announce HSPA+ INSTEAD of LTE, but as a complement to provide service to the maximum number of customers. After all, if HSPA+ is a waste of time when they are providing LTE on the same cell site, why do they continue to do it for the sites in the final stage of their 3G footprint upgrade?

        • TMOLOYAL

          As a person who installs this hardware and works on it everyday of the week, I can say with 1,000 percent certainty that you are wrong. All 4 of those technologies I mentioned are separate at each and every tower location that has been upgraded. It is absolutely not just one unit that does all technologies.

    • jaxgrim

      VoLTE is going to be what improves these areas you are complaining about.

      • itguy08

        And how will it do that? Don’t forget Band12 (700a) exists in 0 phones today and is an LTE and HSPA band.

        • jaxgrim

          LTE is cheap and fast to deploy. If you live in an area where there is only 2G, then you will not likely get 3G. You will have a combination of GSM and VoLTE. It does not have to be Band12 to do VoLTE. And when I say “cheap”, I mean less hardware and less footprint for leasing. That makes it much more cost-effective than the large UMTS cabinets.

        • itguy08

          PS: The hardware T-Mobile is deploying supports UMTS/GSM/LTE. It’s a software switch away from deployment.

        • jaxgrim

          LTE is an external piece of hardware from the UMTS and GSM in most cases. The VoLTE is a software upgrade to the LTE. There will be no UMTS for many of the GSM areas that are getting LTE

        • itguy08

          Really? One of the RBS’s that T-Mobile deploys is the RBS6000 from Ericsson (http://www.ericsson.com/us/ourportfolio/products/base-stations) which supports it all.

        • jaxgrim

          May be for Ericsson markets. A larger number of markets are deploying Nokia.

        • itguy08

          From what I’ve gathered, East and West coasts (exception Seattle) are Ericsson and the middle is Nokia. Many key markets are Ericsson.

        • jaxgrim

          Not quite, but somewhat. Miami is also a Nokia market for example. A small number of large markets have Ericsson. A large number of smaller markets have Nokia. If that makes sense.

        • philyew

          From a comment back in March by Mike Sievert, it appears they will be doing some of the 2G-only-to-LTE phase using PCS and won’t need to deploy the latest tower equipment as some of the slightly older Ericsson gear can be re-used.

        • jaxgrim

          It depends on how old the GSM equipment is. The oldest stuff does not have the capability of utilizing packet-based transport. That stuff has to go away and be replaced with newer GSM.

        • philyew

          As I understand it, some of the equipment installed in the last 5 years will be capable of handling LTE.

        • jaxgrim

          Yeah, that is all the newer stuff. There is still a lot of older stuff out there. We have Ericsson RBS2000 equipment out there that is well over a decade old.

        • philyew

          I’m getting this stuff second-hand, but from a discussion I had with Conan Kudo and Milan Milanovic I understood that there was some Ericsson 2G equipment that was deployed since 2009 (i.e. before the network modernization program began) which could be re-used.

        • jaxgrim

          I’m sure there is. My market just has the old stuff. Markets like DC, NY, and etc likely have had the newer stuff for sometime. Especially during those days, if you were not a top 10 market you only got another market’s used equipment.

        • jay_max

          I’m not a cellular tech, but I would think moving voice traffic to LTE would free up 2G spectrum and allow them to more quickly reallocate/upgrade that to HSPA.

    • Roberto Jaimes

      Interesting

    • besweeet

      I wouldn’t consider VoLTE to be pointless, but rather just something to hold the other carriers over for a while. Several other carriers around the world are doing essentially the same exact thing. I’m sure they have an insane amount of resources still dedicated to the 2G upgrade program; this might not have needed very much work to begin with.

    • PHL

      I am reminded of an old saying: (paraphrasing) No matter how many men you allocate to the job, it still takes 9 months to make a baby.

      I’m sure that TMO is allocating an appropriate portion of their budget to the task of upgrading rural and outlying areas. The fact, though, is that for the large majority of TMO customers like me, rural data is a NON-ISSUE, simply because I never go there.

      I understand it is a very big issue for those that live in these areas, and to them I suggest that they might be better served by a different carrier. Everyone needs to make the choice that’s right for their individual situation.

    • PHL

      Additionally, from a business standpoint, TMO is in growth mode. That means you have to acquire new customers, and the only good way to get lots of new customers is to take them away from competitors. Improving coverage in major metro areas makes sense because that’s where most of the potential customers are. Without those new revenues, you can forget about upgrading the 2G areas. Period.

  • Fr0stTr0n

    T-Mobile stores haven’t been saying anything about this in the Seattle area, but what else is new with cellular salesmen.

    • ssjassassin

      this type of information is plugged in formal announcements like this. The employees on almost all levels have no clue about this coming. In Arizona they have a small pocket they test this in. You will hear about it more often as they expand the service.

  • sushimane

    whats the different between the hd voice that tmobile have now and volte. if my mind serve me correct at uncarrier 3.0 they announced that they have hd voice but only on tmobile phones and network. but this volte would work on every call?

    • Medion

      VoLTE means that you will get HD Voice and simultaneous data over LTE instead of over HSPA+.

      • sushimane

        Oh OK thanks

    • UMA_Fan

      VoLTE is essential because when tmobile deploys low band spectrum and we all get better coverage in buildings and in the boonies we will be able to talk and text on that connection too

  • Cam Fas

    Wonder when they will enable this for the iPhone. Also what code on the iPhone shows the lte MHz on iPhone on the note *#0011 did the trick

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    I am in San Jose and call said hd voice. Never saw in before, upper left hand corner

    • ⓜ@®!ⓞ G@®CI@ ™

      What phone ?

      • JaswinderSinghJammu

        I have the LG G2

    • Kit Pogi

      I’m in Los Angeles noticed that “HD” icon too..although LTE goes away instead 4G appears ;-( (HTC One M8)

  • JJ Clark

    I’m in Seattle and my calls still drop and my “LTE” is spotty at best. So, there’s that.

    • Medion

      Where in Seattle? I’m on 2nd and Madison right now and pulling over 40mb down and 12 up.

  • PhoneGod

    lol voice over LTE….How about voice service in my work building. This service is a joke. If it wasn’t for unlimited data I would be off this service

    • UMA_Fan

      The low band spectrum will be a huge part of that… Voice over LTE will give people in covered areas and new phones calling ability in buildings

      • PhoneGod

        Man I really hope so. Do you know if the nexus 5 is compatible?

        • UMA_Fan

          No only devices that support 700mhz a block or band 12 LTE that come out towards the end of the year will support it. Most likely only Tmobile carrier branded phones will support VoLTE

  • UMA_Fan

    So they basically just ported WiFi calling over to LTE? I wonder if whatever is used for not dropping the call from LTE and handing it over will be used for WiFi calling now

    • besweeet

      I’m not sure what Wi-Fi calling has to do with this.

      • kalel33

        Because they’re the same thing. They both use the data network to transmit phone calls.

        • besweeet

          Does the fact that they’re both IP-based calls make them the same, though?

        • kalel33

          Yeah, one uses WIFI and one uses the cellular data network but they both use the same means of communication. It’s like the difference between driving your car or taking a taxi. They both use the same method of getting you there but your using someone else’s transportation, instead of your own.

  • Matt

    Okay, why are they doing VoLTE when their LTE build is still fairly nacent when compared to AT&T and Verizon? Get the network built out first, guys!

    • philyew

      I see elsewhere you have a beef about in-building coverage. How would you feel when TM start deploying their 700 MHz spectrum later in the year if you could get data indoors, but no voice service because they hadn’t enabled VoLTE?

      I appreciate that you might not live in one of the areas where they will be making 700MHz service available, but millions of people do and VoLTE will be a key enabler of competitive performance for them.

    • Kidney_Thief

      Are you under some kind of impression that T-Mobile has only one network team that goes around the country like a traveling carnival? They have contractors all over the place that perform network upgrades, which is how they can roll out LTE in Northern California, Kansas, South Carolina, and the Gulf Coast region all at the same time.

      My point, if you don’t get it already, is that VoLTE upgrades in Seattle have no bearing on other tower upgrades nationwide.

      • philyew

        Not only that, but enabling VoLTE in Seattle (or anywhere for that matter) will probably have zero impact on the ability to enable LTE service on any tower. The dependency is the other way round. Once the tower is upgraded and LTE service is deployed, enabling VoLTE must surely be a remote-software modification only.

        • Kidney_Thief

          Exactly. VoLTE is the next logical network eveolution for T-Mobile, in addition to 4×2 MIMO. I’m personally glad that they’re taking network upgrades this seriously, and on such an aggressive timeline. Not sure why people are getting so crabby about it.

  • TMOguy

    Update on this. The software was finally able to be downloaded this morning on my Note 3 (just one day late!). Software update went fine on the device.
    I live very close to an LTE tower (less then 1 block from my house). I made a call and yep, it stayed on LTE! Sounded fine. I stayed on the call (I had called a recording) and went to speedtest app to see how that would work while on a call. Got excellent results – 25 down and 17 up at that particular moment. Email synced while on the call, all on LTE…

    Then, did another test. Drove to work while on a call listening to a recording… LTE handoff seemed fine. Purposely took a route that led me by a tower I knew did not have LTE. As I approached the edge of the LTE cell, the call stuttered just briefly, then cut out for maybe 1/2 second, then handed off to the UMTS/HSPA+ cell. The call did not drop, though. However the handoff was not as smooth as tower to tower on just UMTS.

    It got even more interesting.. Keep driving on the same call (still on UMTS) and drove again by a tower that has LTE. Guess what? The phone did NOT go back to LTE while on the call! So, that was an interesting discovery. If the phone drops to UMTS while on a VoLTE call it will not go back to LTE until you hang up.

    As soon as I hung up, it immediately went back to LTE,

    It is cool to have this.. Great job T-Mobile!

    • TMOguy

      Another update. The new software also included ‘Download Booster’ for the Note 3. That was an added bonus!!

    • besweeet

      Not going back to LTE sounds about right. You don’t go back to 3G after leaving a 3G area but you go back into it.

    • TMOguy

      Has anybody noticed that the VoLTE is outgoing calls only? When I receive a call, even when my phone is on LTE, it falls back to UMTS.

  • TMOguy

    Seattle just went from 15+15 mhz bandwidth on LTE to 20 + 20, just today….

  • Brandon Makel Allen

    Mmm since the update in Philadelphia I have experience my calls going mute after a few minutes of talking…Some calls don’t even connect and I have had several people say they been trying to call me but can’t get through…I’m wondering if I can Uninstall this latest update?

    • Joe

      I am having the same issue in Raleigh from time to time. You can disable calls over VOLTE from your dialer settings. Go into the phone dialer and then call settings and select the option to not use VOLTE (Note 3)