At first, VoLTE will be used to deliver "Rich Communications Services" (which look like something similar to what Voice over IP/Video over IP outfits offer today) rather than completely replacing narrowband voice. It will be awhile before Verizon is willing to commit to that, due in part to LTE outages in late 2011.
On the flip side is MetroPC, which has pushed VoLTE as hard as it could.
Then there's Sprint, which will stick to voice over 1x for the foreseeable future, but routes Direct Connect over IP. Sprint's latest DC incarnation seems quite similar to one facet of RCS over LTE.
That was in the initial public plan discussions. Since then they have submitted at least one more plan. At this point I would say we have no idea how many separate Sprint sites they will end up keeping. Don't forget that co-located sites are not counted in his tally. Nor do I assume small cells. In the Shentel - nTelos Merger the FCC paid attention to coverage areas and said all of the nTelos areas (mostly 3G) must be covered by 4G LTE. If the same standard is applied to this deal with 1x800 voice calls and T-Mobile gets rid of CDMA which I view as likely based on past actions with MetroPCS...
Actually he was more ambiguous:
"FABER: Does leaving an enfeebled competitor worry you to act – sort of figure into your decision making? In other words, the idea that Sprint wouldn't ever be able to compete if it was truly left independent?
DELRAHIM: That would certainly be one of the considerations that goes into a number of factors we would review to see, you know, what would happen to the competitive landscape. Does that -- what you're insinuating, does that mean there's only be then two competitors if this merger doesn't happen -- and one of them would fail or both of them might fail without this merger? Those would be factors we would consider. But I don't know if the evidence fully supports that."
So managed to find a Moto Z2 Force to try out, and the results are pretty substantial sitting at my desk. The Moto is better pulling LTE by 3 dbm, and the 1x (which I believe is what I want for just making a voice call, right?) was better by 16 or 20 dbm.
Might have me shopping soon...