GSM Association adopts framework for LTE voice

The mobile world is one step closer to adopting a single standard for voice over Long Term Evolution technology now that the GSM Association has adopted a carrier-sponsored 4G voice initiative.

The initiative — which was originally referred to as “One Voice” but has since been renamed “Voice over LTE” (VoLTE) — made its debut late last year, when AT&T, Verizon and several other telecom companies and device manufacturers joined forces to help develop voice and SMS standards for LTE. The coalition of telecom and tech companies originally banded together to create joint voice and SMS standards that would avoid potential fragmentation of LTE services and thus ensure that voice-capable LTE devices could operate on different networks.

To that end, the group decided to work with the 3GPP’s IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) that is designed to transfer wireless voice services over to IP. In their profile for LTE voice standards, the companies said the increased power of wireless IP networks through 4G technologies “creates the need for a voice evolution… from existing CS networks to Voice over IP using IMS.”

In adopting the initiative, the GSMA says that it will “lead the development” of specifications for international roaming on LTE networks that are due to be completed in early 2011. The association also says that it embraced the VoLTE Initiative’s IMS-based approach since IMS “supports all voice call service features such as call waiting, call hold and call barring.”

LTE is a GSM-based wireless data standard that has been adopted by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile as their choice for 4G wireless technology. Verizon, which is slated to begin offering LTE services commercially in 2010, is expected to initially offer it as a data-only service similar to Sprint’s current WiMAX offerings, as standards for LTE-based voice and SMS services have yet to be finalized for commercial use. AT&T and T-Mobile are slated to launch their LTE networks in 2011.

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