While cellular companies in the U.S. and abroad continue expanding and improving upon their 4G network builds and marketing campaigns, they are also looking forward to finally introduce VoLTE to the mix. Voice over LTE (News - Alert) is expected to launch in a significant way in 2014.
We can expect several major U.S. mobile operators to make VoLTE commercially available on a widespread basis in the second half of this year, according to iGR, which says the number of VoLTE subscribers will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 187 percent between 2012 and 2017.
VoLTE is noteworthy to cellular service providers and their customers for at least a couple of reasons.
First, it will enable some cellcos to lower their costs and better leverage their assets because now they can move voice traffic onto newer 4G networks and spectrum. That means they can decommission older networks when it makes sense, and leverage the spectrum now earmarked for voice fallback for other uses.
Second, cellcos see VoLTE as a potential answer to the mobile VoIP threat by over-the-top providers like Apple, Facebook, fring (which was recently purchased by telco infrastructure outfit GENBAND (News - Alert)) and Google, and a wide array of others. That’s because VoLTE can deliver high-definition voice services.
"VoLTE promises to energize both mobile operators and vendors," said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR. "Consumers will benefit from the many new multimedia products and services that mobile operators will be able to offer as they transition from legacy voice solutions to the new platform."
Ed Elkin, director of advanced communication solutions at Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert), says that VoLTE gives the telcos a strong play in mobile voice because with it they can deliver simplicity (all you have to do is make the call, no download required), a solid connection (unlike OTT types, cellcos own and can control the network), existing operator billing, the ability to multitask while on a call, and a high-quality audio and video experience.
That’s going to be important for the cellular companies, adds Elkin, considering that voice still accounts for more than half of their revenues on average.
“A neat thing about VoLTE is it’s more than voice,” Elkin adds.
VoLTE is more spectrally efficient than the current method of handling cellular voice (for example, six times as efficient when compared to UMTS), so it allows cellular carriers to free up their networks to support more data services. And they can do some interesting new things with data services too.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker
Edited by Cassandra Tucker