Verizon carried a live, over-the-air LTE Cat M1 voice over LTE (VoLTE) call last week, which the company claimed to be a first. The trial on Verizon’s LTE network, using equipment from Ericsson and Qualcomm, demonstrated that Cat M1 VoLTE technology works on a production network and extends the capabilities of the cellular IoT standard.

Verizon used Ericsson's commercial network infrastructure with the Qualcomm® MDM9206 global multimode LTE modem enabled for Verizon's ThingSpace IoT development platform.

Cat M1 is a 3GPP IoT standard for LTE networks that uses 1.08 MHz receive bandwidth to provide peak download and upload speeds of 1 Mbps, with a transmit power of either 20 or 23 dBm. Cat M1 is said to support battery lifetimes up to 10 years, which enables a variety of applications: water meters, asset trackers, wearables and other consumer products. The higher transmit power enhances penetration through walls and floors to reach devices located in remote locations. The ability to handle VoLTE calls adds additional capabilities for IoT applications.

Verizon was the first U.S. operator to deploy Cat M1 nationwide, earlier this year, after launching their commercial Cat M1 network in 2016.

Rosemary McNally, vice president for corporate technology at Verizon, said, “By proving that voice services can be delivered on a production LTE Cat M1 network, we're paving the way for new types of IoT applications and services.”

Eric Parsons, head of 4G and RAN mobile broadband products at Ericsson, said, “The IoT space offers new revenue-generating services for operators and adding voice capabilities to IoT devices takes use cases such as alarm panels and medical alert systems to the next level of functionality.”