May 15, 2014, 2:36 PM — AT&T will introduce a high-definition voice service over its LTE network in parts of four Midwest states on May 23, the carrier announced today.
Appearing first in "select areas" in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the HD Voice service will continue to expand to other markets, but AT&T didn't announce a timeline.
For years, HD Voice technology has promised to make calls sound clearer and crisper without patches of lost communication. Widespread adoption of HD voice-calling capability in the U.S. is far from well established, however, even as multiple surveys show that customers want high-quality Voice communications in choosing a carrier.
"As demand for speed, connectivity and enhanced wireless services grows, the introduction of HD Voice on our all-IP 4G LTE network is just another way we're working to provide our customers with the enhanced services they need, while also effectively utilizing our spectrum," an AT&T spokeswoman said via email.
To work, HD Voice requires that both parties in a call have an HD-capable handset and a cellular base station (usually located at the base of a tower) between them that's equipped to pass the HD signal. To enable HD in the handset, the AT&T spokeswoman said the carrier will begin selling "very soon" the HD Voice-capable Samsung Galaxy S4 mini with a 4.3-in. Super AMOLED display.
Both T-Mobile and Sprint started rolling out HD Voice to their 3G networks last year. T-Mobile sold its first version of the iPhone, the iPhone 5, with HD Voice capability last year.
Since then, Sprint has enabled HD Voice over its 3G CDMA network in 100 U.S. markets as of late April, a Sprint spokesman said Thursday.
By the end of the year, Sprint expects to have 20 million customers on HD voice-ready phones and offers a number of handsets that support that capability. Sprint's HD Voice helps reduce unwanted background noise and expands the normal Voice call from a four-octave range to seven octaves.
The only caveat with Sprint is that for HD Voice to work, both phones in a call must be Sprint HD voice-ready phones, Sprint confirmed. Sprint hasn't revealed any plans for moving to a future HD Voice capability with LTE.
The nation's largest wireless carrier, Verizon, hasn't deployed HD Voice even though it has a nationwide LTE network rolled out. The carrier told Fierce Wireless in April 2013 that it would have HD Voice rollouts in late 2013 or early 2014, but hasn't so far moved ahead.