The Opportunities and Challenges Presented to Mobile Network Operators by Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)

By: Jagadeesh Dantuluri

Mobile network operators (MNOs) across the globe are planning more than 300 LTE network rollouts by the end of next year. As a direct consequence of these new LTE networks, which are capable of delivering mobile broadband and communication services at greater capacity, lower latency and the lowest cost per transported bit than current mobile networks, mobile data traffic is predicted to grow to 11.2 exabytes per month by 2017, a 13-fold increase from 2012.

So how are MNOs planning to monetize this rapidly growing, superfast, global mobile broadband?

One answer is voice over LTE, better known as VoLTE, a GSMA standard for delivering voice and messaging services for LTE networks by treating voice as data and using an IP multimedia subsystem standard. This means voice communications are managed in the same way as internet data.

Over the past few years we have heard a lot about the threat of over-the-top (OTT) services and how the applications are commoditizing the mobile networks making their operators merely responsible for carrying the data. 

Voice and video conferencing is one area where OTT services, such as Skype, Google Talk and FaceTime, are all familiar to subscribers and have, until now, driven user expectations and shaped the market.  These applications are often preinstalled on smartphones and, as these devices become much more widespread, the adoption of OTT solutions for video-calling services will also increase. 

However, a fully satisfactory user experience cannot be provided by OTT solutions operating over mobile networks as there are: no quality of service (QoS) measures in place, no handover mechanism to the circuit-switched network, no widespread interoperability of services between different OTT services and devices, and no guaranteed emergency support or security measures.

Consequently, OTT services are dependent on mobile broadband coverage and the willingness of subscribers to use a service that lacks quality, security, seamless mobility and flexibility.

This is where VoLTE has the opportunity to differentiate itself from these OTT services.  Voice and video applications using VoLTE will be delivered with carrier-grade capabilities and a guaranteed QoS.

Traditional telecommunication principles

Subscribers using VoLTE applications will experience a more complete service that better meets the needs of the modern consumer. VoLTE services will include the following:  guaranteed end-to-end QoS; support for emergency and regulatory services; interoperability and mobility across the globe; as well as customer support for a complete user experience.


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