Ina Fried

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HD Voice Will Start Coming to AT&T Later This Year

Among the announcements that T-Mobile made last month was its plan to deploy improved voice calling on the iPhone 5 it will start selling later this month.

The technology, known as HD Voice, requires support from both the network and the devices on each end of the call.

Speaking on Monday, AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne said that the carrier will roll out its own support for the technology later this year, as it begins to route voice calling over its LTE network.

“HD Voice is part of our voice over LTE strategy,” Rinne said, speaking at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit in Sausalito, Calif. T-Mobile launched HD Voice nationwide in January for a handful of devices and Sprint has also talked about its plans for HD Voice.

Voice quality, of course, has been a sore spot for AT&T in recent years, though Rinne insists that past issues with dropped calls and other issues are largely over.

“I think we’ve taken that off the table in terms of a competitive challenge,” Rinne said.

Rinne, who oversees network technologies for the carrier, said that the carrier will also begin work on so-called “advanced LTE,” which does things to reduce interference and bond together traffic from various frequencies.

AT&T is also looking to embrace over-the-top service, such as messaging services from Facebook, Rinne said. She noted all of the network programming hooks that AT&T has made available to even those creating services that rival its own.

So, will that leave AT&T as just a dumb pipe?

There’s a good business in being a pipe, Rinne said. “I leave the dumb part off.”

(Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized T-Mobile’s launch of HD Voice. They launched the service in January and last week announced that its iPhone 5 would also support HD Voice.)

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google