Verizon Wireless is potentially beginning to make changes that will switch it from being a 3G and a 4G LTE network into one that will solely handle faster and more reliable 4G LTE services.
The first switching changes from 3G to 4G service have occurred in Manhattan in New York City, according to a Dec. 4 report by Digital Trends.
The changes are part of Verizon's move to having an infrastructure entirely based on 4G LTE service for its customers. Verizon is the largest wireless carrier in the United States, followed by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
The Verizon network changes in New York are part of the company's move to repurpose its 3G spectrum for LTE purposes, the report stated. Verizon had recently turned off some 3G frequencies in Manhattan, and then reactivated them a short time later using LTE signals. The work is still in very early testing stages and is not going to be completed for some time, the story stated.
"The idea is to eventually have all its subscribers using LTE, something which depends on it having plenty of coverage, a fully operational VoLTE system, and an LTE-capable smartphone in everyone’s hands," the story continued.
A Verizon spokesman did not reply to a phone inquiry from eWEEK on Dec. 5 seeking more details about the changes.
Verizon has been busy working on other new innovations for its network and customers as well.
In November, the company announced that it is beginning work with competitor AT&T to bring wireless calls to data networks following a similar move by AT&T and T-Mobile earlier this year. Under the deal, Verizon and AT&T are working together to enable voice over LTE (VoLTE) wireless calls through data networks under plans that expect to deliver the expanded services to their customers in 2015.
By using VoLTE, customers will eventually gain HD voice quality and other features that will improve their calls, according to Verizon. The companies called the collaboration "the next step in the evolution of VoLTE technology by enabling VoLTE-to-VoLTE connections between Verizon Wireless and AT&T customers."
A similar partnership was unveiled by T-Mobile and AT&T this past May, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
VoLTE is an all-IP (Internet Protocol) technology that integrates a network's enhanced calling features into smartphones, which then creates a seamless experience for customers, according to Verizon. By having cellular service providers working together to ensure interoperability for their customers, a better and richer mobile experience for customers is expected, the company stated.
To accomplish this, engineers from both companies are working through a full set of requirements, beginning with extensive testing in lab environments and then moving to field trials, according to Verizon.
Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been working closely with the GSMA on the VoLTE initiative.
In May, T-Mobile first offered some VoLTE capabilities, starting first in Seattle, according to an earlier eWEEK report. VoLTE has been a longtime promise of all the major carriers. It puts voice and data on a single radio layer, resulting in faster call connections, the ability to experience LTE-speed data while on a call and clearer, more natural-sounding calls, since VoLTE enables high-definition (HD) Voice technology.
AT&T began offering limited VoLTE services in a handful of U.S. markets the same month—though also in a limited way, with the capabilities only working initially on Samsung Galaxy S 4 Mini devices.
The first VoLTE services in the U.S. actually were offered in 2012 by MetroPCS, the prepaid carrier that T-Mobile acquired in 2013. In 2010, MetroPCS, then the nation's fifth-largest carrier, was also the first in the United States to roll out 4G LTE technology.