Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) announced today that they’re in the process of rolling out Voice-Over-LTE (VoLTE) calling across the U.S over the coming weeks. As Re/Code reported today, the actual transition to robust usage of their LTE network, and then eventually nothing but VoLTE calls, will be a lengthy one that may not be completed for a couple of years yet.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is the last of the major U.S carriers to launch their LTE network, which will allow their customers to make high definition voice and video calls, and allow for quicker call setup. Initially however, the service will be somewhat limited, as only select phones will be compatible (and Verizon has yet to announce which phones those will be initially), and both callers must be with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) to use the service. It’s expected that cross-carrier VoLTE calls will eventually be possible.
There’s also the matter of dropped calls, which is common on such networks. When one person leaves an LTE network area, rather than the call being downgraded in quality, it is dropped completely. It’s a problem that T-Mobile solved this year on their network, but one that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) admits will be present on theirs for the time being.
While the VoLTE service will be free to subscribers, calls and video will still use up minutes (on time-limited plans) and usage data, respectively; and in the case of the latter, those video chats can be quite hefty on data usage amounts.
While it will be slow to get going initially, by 2016 it’s expected that Verizon will only be offering phones that support LTE and that the network will become the default over which most calls are made.
Berkshire Hathaway, helmed by legendary investor Warren Buffett, is the largest shareholder in Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) with 15 million shares as of their last filing period on June 30.