A day after their quarterly earnings report, Qualcomm [NASDAQ:QCOM], announced that they had successfully achieved a phone call via VoLTE (voice over LTE) with SRVCC (Single Radio Voice Call Continuity). This means that Qualcomm has successfully overcome one of the biggest problems that have been discussed by various network operators as a hurdle to having VoLTE.

28nm Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 is the first chip capable of handling VoLTE
28nm Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 is the first chip capable of handling VoLTE

In many instances, carriers are trying to move all of their devices and networks to a VoLTE model, getting rid of what will soon be considered legacy 2G and 3G radios. With the nixing of CDMA 2000 and GSM radios, it allows the carriers not to have to keep those networks up and consolidate their networks into one standard signal.

Furthermore, it should also improve device battery life as it should no longer have to constantly search for both LTE and 3G/2G signal for voice. By consolidating these two radios into one there should be a significantly improved level of service and performance.

The only problem, for now at least, is that most network operators’ LTE networks are not really ubiquitous enough to fully support both data and voice over LTE. They also need to improve their reliability and robustness so we don’t have outages like Verizon randomly did recently. Admittedly, though, when we tested LTE during the San Diego County power outage, LTE was up and reliable, so perhaps that LTE outage was a one off mistake that will never happen again. In the meantime, though, there will be a need to have seamless handoffs from one network to the other as more and more devices become LTE capable and there is more need for LTE coverage even where it may be spotty.

Qualcomm further detailed the advancements with their new chipset by explaining,

"SRVCC is the next logical step in the 4G LTE voice roadmap following the commercial launch of circuit-switched fallback technology (CSFB) on smartphones in 2011. CSFB allows a single radio in the handset to dynamically switch from an LTE data connection to a 3G connection when the user needs to make or receive a call. Similarly, SRVCC support enables a single radio in the handset to execute a seamless handover of a voice call from an LTE network to a 3G network."

In addition to this, SRVCC and CSFB enable LTE and 3G networks to be supported on a single baseband chip, removing the need for separate LTE and 3G modems and accompanying radios. With the MSM8960, we really are witnessing a huge consolidation of many cutting edge technologies into one extremely powerful chip.
Qualcomm will be demonstrating this successful VoLTE call handover technology at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

For many years, we have been waiting for the day for LTE to be the single source of voice and data transmission as it would have theoretically spelled the end of ‘closed’ networks as we know it. Back when LTE was originally pitched, it sounded simply utopian and like the solution to all consumers’ problems and the carriers would have less power over consumers. Alas, LTE is still going to be transmitted on a broad array of frequencies and we have yet to see whether or not a manufacturer like Qualcomm can accommodate all of them on a single chip. Our hope is that they can and will and that manufacturers will give us a glimmer of hope for our utopian dream.