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US and S Korea both claim first place on voice over LTE

Rival operators in race to nick VoLTE glory

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Network operators from South Korea and the United States were both claiming victory on Wednesday after racing right down to the wire to become the first in the world to offer voice over LTE (VoLTE) services.

South Korea’s largest operator, SK Telecom, and national rival LG U+ both announced VoLTE services would begin on Wednesday under the HD Voice banner.

Promising “high definition voice quality and dramatically reduced call connection time”, SK said VoLTE would be billed at the same rate as its 3G services and initially only available via Samsung’s Galaxy S3 LTE handset.

The operator claimed a 40 per cent improvement in voice quality by virtue of it using the Adapted Multi-Rate Wide Band (AMR-WB) codec, which is apparently capable of handling 2.2 times wider frequency bandwidth than 3G calls.

It added that connection times would be slashed to 0.25 to 2.5 seconds – compared to an average of five seconds for 3G.

LG U+, meanwhile, said it is flogging Optimus LTE 2 phones.

However, not to be outdone, US carrier MetroPCS claimed early on Wednesday morning Korea Standard Time (GMT+9) that it had already sold its first VoLTE handset at one of its Dallas/Fort Worth store locations.

"The initial move to LTE and this move to VoLTE allow us to achieve significant spectral efficiencies and will increase network capacity so that we can enhance the 4G LTE experience that our customers have today at a tremendous value,” said MetroPCS chairman and CEO Roger Linquist in a canned statement.

“VoLTE also provides a foundational capability for future Rich Communication Services (RCS), which we plan to launch later this year.”

Ironically, the handset sold in Dallas was one produced by a South Korean manufacturer – the LG Connect 4G Android. ®

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