With VoLTE already rolling out, AT&T turns to Wi-Fi calling in 2015

AT&T will follow T-Mobile by offering voice calls over Wi-Fi networks next year. AT&T CEO and President Ralph de la Vega announced the plans on Friday while speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference. Light Reading reported the news, noting that de la Vega made sure to temper expectations on when Wi-Fi calling would arrive for AT&T customers.

The carrier will surely test the service to provide a seamless handoff for calls between its cellular network and Wi-Fi. [company]AT&T[/company] is also in the midst of expanding a similar effort by transmitting voice calls over LTE data lines: It started a rollout of VoLTE in May but only in a few markets and with a single supported handset.

Apple's newest phones: iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Apple’s newest phones: iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Even though other smartphone platforms have long supported Wi-Fi calling, the timing of AT&T’s announcement likely coincides with the new iPhone 6 handset, which is now available for pre-orders.

Apple’s latest phones will come with iOS 8 which supports Wi-Fi calling, although here in the U.S. it will initially be limited to [company]T-Mobile[/company] customers. AT&T probably has less of a need to add Wi-Fi calling than T-Mobile because it generally has a broader coverage footprint. However, it can free up some network resources by offloading voice calls to Wi-Fi, which makes more room for voice and data on AT&T’s network.