WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Verizon Communications and AT&T Inc expect to be able to transmit wireless voice calls between the two carriers over high-speed data networks by 2015, the companies said on Monday.
The technology is expected to improve the quality of calls and allow for video calling and voicemail.
The calls would be transmitted using a technology known as Voice over LTE, which repackages voice calls as data and transmits them over carriers' high-speed data networks.
More people than ever are using 4G-LTE networks, and this influx of smart devices, machines and appliances connected to the Internet will cause extra traffic, and strain the capabilities that draw consumers to a new network in the first place.
By 2017, according to a recent report by Pyramid Research, the number of LTE subscriptions worldwide will reach 802.2 million, a 72% CAGR over 2012 levels, growing to almost 10 percent of global mobile subscribers.
WhatsApp, the world's biggest mobile messaging service, is to add a voice call service for its 450 million customers, laying down a new challenge to telecom network operators just days after it was bought by Facebook for $19 billion.
Chief Executive Jan Koum said his aim was for WhatsApp users to be able to make calls by the second quarter, just as they can now text messages, in a bid to expand the service's appeal to help it hit a billion users.
Chinese equipment vendor ZTE has said it is helping China Mobile to deploy voice over LTE (VoLTE) services on its network in Guangzhou in what it calls an important step to a wider national rollout.
The company says its technology ensures that users do not experience any disruption when switching between 3G and 4G networks for voice calls.
It is using a system known as Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) to allow seamless handovers between the two network standards.
UK operator EE says it will invest £275 million ($450 million) in improving the quality and reliability of mobile calls on its 2G and 3G networks in 2014.
The funds will also be used to conduct trials of new voice technologies such as voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over WiFi.
Europe's second highest court upheld a decision on Wednesday by European Union regulators clearing Microsoft's $8.5 billion takeover of Skype in 2011, rejecting a challenge by the world's top network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc.
At a hearing in May, Cisco (San Jose, CA, USA) argued that Microsoft's (Seattle, WA, USA) acquisition of the Internet video and voice messaging company created a monopoly and that the European Commission was wrong to approve the deal without demanding concessions from Microsoft.
Spain’s Telefonica has revealed plans to shut down Jajah, its US-based internet telephony service, at the end of January.
“As of January 31, 2014, Jajah [Mountain View, CA, USA] will no longer offer any Jajah.com or Jajah Direct services to its users in the United States or elsewhere,” said a statement published on Jajah’s website.
The mobile operator community is working to address the increasing need for bandwidth that accompanies the rollout of next generation 4G networks. These Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks pave the way to full IP convergence, which operators see as a key to enabling accelerated time-to-market of new services that can drive customer satisfaction and generate new revenues.
Bahrain is to study whether to restrict Internet-based telecom services, the communications minister of the restive Arab state told Reuters, although no final decision was imminent.
Internet-based communications including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), instant messaging and social media helped activists launch and nurture the uprisings that toppled long-standing rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in 2011.
Saudi Arabia plans to block Internet-based communication tool WhatsApp within weeks if the U.S.-based firm fails to comply with requirements set by the kingdom's telecom regulator, local newspapers reported this week.
This month the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) banned Viber, another such tool, which like WhatsApp is hard for the state to monitor and deprives telecom companies of revenue from international calls and texts.