AT&T, like Verizon, is preparing a VoLTE service. To test it out, they’ll need reference hardware. Not any phone will do when it comes to VoLTE, either; it’s got to have the technology to work on the updated network. From the looks of things, AT&T is asking Samsung to help out.
VoLTE allows for a higher quality voice calls to happen, but it’s a radical shift from current technology. Unlike devices now, which can use legacy 3G or 2G technology, VoLTE requires a shift altogether. It’s a bit like the initial switch to LTE, though a pure VoLTE network will render older devices useless. It won’t happen on a large scale for years, but it’s coming.
Korean media is reporting that AT&T is ready to start eating their new network, and has asked Samsung to help out. The Korean OEM has a VoLTE capable device already, having launched one in 2012 for Korean carriers SK Telecom and LG U+. There’s no word on whether or not AT&T is simply going to use that device, or if Samsung has another readied for the US market test.
The real news is that AT&T may have begun testing on a VoLTE network, meaning they’re likely close to rolling it out later this year. We know Verizon is planning a few VoLTE devices for release this year, and AT&T is traditionally second to Verizon is regard to network updates and rollout. Though VoLTE brings data-centric calling, it also affects your data plan accordingly. We like clearer calls, but we’re not sure how we’ll enjoy VoLTE and shared data plans, which is a direction both carriers are headed.