Verizon VoLTE: Terrible, Horrible, Awful

by Colin Berkshire

Verizon’s voice quality on their CDMA is the worst of all major carriers in the US. This 20 year old waveform compression technique has long been obsolete and gives voice an under-water gurgling or warbling sound. It lacks high frequencies.

So there has been a lot of hope for VoLTE on Verizon because VoLTE(Voice Over LTE) uses a new set of codecs that are very efficient while providing very clear audio. It was exciting to hear that VoLTE would be supported by Verizon on the iPhone 6, and we wanted to promptly try it.

We have a couple of weeks’ experience with Verizon VoLTE and the verdict from our users is in: It sucks badly. We’re turning it off.

Quite simply the problem is garbled audio and dropped calls. Areas that used to have great coverage no longer do. While audio to the cell-phone end tends to be good, persons on the far end of the network consistently report that they cannot hear clearly.

This should come as no surprise. Verizon warns you–repeatedly–that Advanced Calling 1.0 may experience dropped calls (and boy they weren’t kidding):

Advanced Calling 1.0 is a first-generation service offering based on new technology that we’re continuing to improve over time. While the new technology enables exciting new features, like HD Voice and Video Calling, you may initially notice some differences in your calling experience. As needed, you can temporarily turn Advanced Calling 1.0 off through your phone’s settings.

Oh, and there is no hand-off back to their 3G network if LTE coverage is poor. Oh, and Caller ID no longer can provide the name of callers.

All of this is inexcusable. Had Verizon simply implemented standard VOIP using a SIP client and standard VOIP protocols things would have worked perfectly using industry standards. Calls would have gracefully transitioned from LTE to CDMA and even would have transitioned transparently to WiFi.

I don’t know who signed off on Verizon’s Advanced Calling 1.0 but they are lousy engineers. It’s just a terrible product.

The one redeeming feature of Verizon has been their voice network and few dropped calls. With Verizon VoLTE Advanced Calling 1.0 the last reason to remain with Verizon has vanished.

Contrast this with T-Mobile’s new WiFi calling. That is a product that works superbly and extends their mediocre network so that it works perfectly where it matters most.

Verizon has a new president and this one shows all the typical signs of Harvard MBA-types: squeeze customers by raising prices, reducing service, and not understanding technology.

Verizon could once justify charging 2x the price of other carriers. But with Advanced Calling 1.0 it is simply an “ignorance tax” that they charge.