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Verizon, AT&T say their voice-over LTE services will work together

VoLTE is considered the next generation of voice call technology, and the alliance between the two greatly expands its reach.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T don't agree on much, but both sides are willing to work together when it comes to the next-generation of wireless voice technology.

AT&T

The two largest wireless carriers in the nation said on Monday that their respective services would work together, and are targeting interoperability between the two by next year.

Voice-over LTE is considered the next step in voice calls because it runs completely on Internet technology and promises features such as clearer calls and the integration of video and voice services. But VoLTE deployment and adoption have been limited because customers on both ends have to be on VoLTE and on the same carrier for the benefits to work.

The agreement between Verizon and AT&T marks a huge step forward by allowing customers on both sides to talk to each other using this advanced form of calling. T-Mobile already touts its Internet voice service while Sprint plans to deploy it next year, but neither has discussed interoperability.

"We're pleased to be working with AT&T as our first interoperating carrier, and we look forward to working with other operators as VoLTE continues to grow," said Tony Melone, chief technology officer at Verizon.

Roger Cheng/CNET

"Interoperability of VoLTE between wireless carriers is crucial to a positive customer experience," said Krish Prabhu, president, chief technology officer of AT&T.

While Sprint hasn't said when it would deploy VoLTE, a company spokeswoman said interoperability is key "to ensuring a viable ecosystem."

T-Mobile CEO John Legere later tweeted, "We've been testing cross-carrier HD Voice and #VoLTE for a while -- bout time the other guys catch up! We're ready when you guys are!"

Verizon, which calls VoLTE "Advanced Calling," introduced the service in September and has been seeding the market with VoLTE-compatible smartphones. AT&T launched the service in a few initial markets earlier this year and plans to expand it across the country.

The companies said engineers from both companies have begun working in lab environments before moving on to field trials.

Updated at 11:03 a.m., 11:46 a.m. and 4:36 p.m. PT to add a comments from Sprint and T-Mobile and clarify that T-Mobile has already deployed its Internet voice service. Sprint plans to deploy it next year.