The Red Pill…

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Morpheus, The Matrix (1999).

Red pill blue pillExperiencing the soothing hum of routers, switches and servers at the NOC, one imagines the green flashing lights assuring us all is well with the world ‘out there’ – the core, backhaul and RAN fully operational….keeping us calm and centered in our work. We know our job is done and we admonish any unbelievers with a stern, confident voice. When the customer support team calls in a panic because they have been flooded with customer complaints telling us the network isn’t working in the city, we smile and let them know they can stop worrying now, the NOC is fully operational and all systems are go. Then we sigh and hang up the phone on them when their tone of voice becomes, well, less than professional.

Yes indeed, all is well down here at the NOC, although, worryingly, even though I’ve full signal strength on my own phone, I can’t seem to connect properly to that Lync conference call because it keeps stuttering and dropping out. The director will be upset, but it’s ok- I’ll just say I just had network problems…

Is there a glitch in the matrix?

Are telco operators stuck in the “Blue Pill” world of The Matrix – the veil created by comfortable green lights and dashboards? On the surface the answer is “no”: Network monitoring and assurance tools are more sophisticated, incorporating big data, analytics and visualisation, providing richer and better information about the going-ons in the network. But what’s happening outside, in the reality of the customer? How do customers experience our network?

Operators should know; research demonstrates network customer experience to be the number one driver of both retention and churn. Customers want their applications to just work and they don’t care what’s happening deep in the NOC – and nor should they. If customers can’t use Spotify on their phone, then for them the network is broken and they will leave it in search of a better one.

What is a “Red Pill”? The view of the Wonderland of the customer:

  • A 100% customer-side view of the Customer Experience (CX) of applications and services on their phone.
  • A geographic view, in real-time and without long feedback cycles.
  • Correlating the customer experience to the state of the network
  • Benchmarking CX against the competition

By taking the “Red Pill”, operators can do some serious Bullet-Dodging. They’d be able to;

  • Conduct evidence-based network optimisation and investment decisions – the “outside in” network customer experience data can be used to guide network optimisation decisions or as supporting evidence for localised investments
  • Accelerate mean-time-to repair – by linking the customer experience perspective with their own network management capabilities, operations and assurance departments can isolate and correct network faults much more rapidly
  • Target local acquisition campaigns in those geographies where their own network is performing comparatively stronger than others

Operators who take the “Red Pill” see how deep the rabbit hole of network customer experience goes, understand the reality of the customer’s world and in the process gain significant competitive advantage.

Christian Rouffaert is the managing director of Teragence, a network customer experience benchmarking business and the winner of the LTE World Summit‘s Innovation Accelerator award. For more information about Teragence, please send an email to contact@teragence.com or go to our website http://www.teragence.com

Inna Ott, Director of Marketing at Polystar Group

Inna Ott, Director of Marketing at Polystar Group

This guest post was written by Inna Ott, Director of Marketing at Polystar Group

CSPs are racing to launch LTE networks. The pace of deployment is accelerating around the world as CSPs embrace the latest network technology – innovations that promise to deliver more data to satisfy the ever growing needs of users, better quality of service, and more efficient use of valuable spectrum. Indeed, growth is surpassing expectations. As the GSA reports, nearly 400 CSPs in 138 countries have launched LTE network services, leading it to revise forecasts and predict that a total of 460 commercial LTE networks will be in service by the end of 2015. What’s more, CSPs with LTE networks are beginning to add VoLTE services in significant numbers.

As a result, CSPs are expecting to benefit by cutting operational costs and reducing subscriber churn by delivering a better experience. Besides, the addition of VoLTE will enable them to offer higher quality voice services to their subscribers, enabling them to further enhance customer experience and offer a compelling alternative to OTT voice services.

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This is a Guest Blog written by Amdocs. Visit Amdocs at next week’s LTE World Summit in Amsterdam

Special events pose daunting challenges for service providers.  When tens of thousands of people congregate in a small setting, a significant load is obviously put on mobile networks. In fact, we’ve seen traffic surges of up to 10 gigabytes per hour at stadiums. In certain instances, the influx of a large number of subscribers into a city to attend live events, combined with a general rise in chatter from city inhabitants about the event, can increase network demand across the entire city by 20 percent. Service providers must be prepared to deal with the influx of mobile activity at these events and understand the best ways to ensure that their network is ready.

During the time period leading up to an event, voice and data traffic show patterns consistent with the number of subscribers arriving at the stadium and engaging with the mobile network. As the event begins, we start to see second screen behavior. This means that subscribers are not only viewing the event in-person, but are also using their mobile phone screens to view and interact with the event (tweeting about it, posting videos, engaging in social media interactions with friends watching the event, etc.). Voice traffic typically decreases by 50 percent during the live event, while data traffic continues to grow as subscribers increasingly turn to social media and streaming video to enhance their in-person experience.

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This blog post was written by Philip Sorrells, VP of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

Philip Sorrells, VP of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

Philip Sorrells, VP of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

A fact of modern day wireless networks is that operators have to continue adding capacity to meet subscriber demand. Cooper’s Law states that the maximum number of voice or data sessions that can be supported over a given area doubles every 30 months. Network operators face constant pressure to improve network capacity, i.e. the amount of traffic that can be handled at once, while also lowering their costs. The main question is how to most effectively do this.

The solution to adding capacity varies depending on the type of cell site, its location, the equipment and technologies supported and other factors. The fundamental challenge at any large macro site is adding new technology, frequency bands and/or equipment while not disrupting the current services. In Europe today that means putting 4G on top of 2G and 3G cell sites in a seamless, cost-efficient manner without hurting quality of service.

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his guest post was written by Affandy Johan, Senior Product Marketing Manager, InfoVista

This guest post was written by Affandy Johan, Senior Product Marketing Manager, InfoVista

As of March 2015, LTE network coverage is now available for 98% of Americans, up from just over half of the U.S. population in 2011. Worldwide, 124 countries now have LTE coverage, with another 18 scheduled to roll out LTE this year. That represents a huge investment from governments and leading operators, which have each poured billions into bringing the speed and bandwidth of LTE to subscribers.

 Most mobile operators would agree that there are gaps in their processes for maintaining a high quality of experience (QoE) throughout LTE networks, though. While their goal is to quickly identify and address LTE network performance issues before they impact subscribers, many lack the necessary insight into subscriber and network data to accomplish this. As a result, LTE network optimization can be very challenging, often leading to subscriber churn when QoE falls short.

But, what if mobile operators could proactively combat this by thinking about performance from the subscriber perspective? What if they could troubleshoot their LTE networks based on data about subscriber QoE, rather than on just network KPIs?

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This guest post was written by Alon Geva,Timing & Synchronization Expert, CTO Office, RAD Member of the ITU-T SG15/Q13 Sync Standardization Group

This guest post was written by Alon Geva,Timing & Synchronization Expert, CTO Office, RAD & Member of the ITU-T SG15/Q13 Sync Standardization Group

Delivering sub-microsecond time accuracy to the cellular base stations is one of the major challenges facing cellular providers as they deploy their new LTE networks. This is exacerbated by LTE-A’s stringent synchronization requirements and the growing use of small cells in 4G networks, which create unique challenges in the backhaul segment.

Before the debut of 4G, the standard way to deliver a time reference was to install a Global Navigation Satellite System, or GNSS (e.g., GPS) at every cell site. A GNSS receiver is usually referred to as a Primary Reference Time Clock (PRTC). This approach is impractical in 4G, however, given the far greater number of cell sites, the intended indoor location of part of the antennas (e.g. shopping malls), as well as the growing concern about possible jamming and spoofing. Furthermore, considerations of CapEx and OpEx render this approach highly ineffective.

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This guest blog was written by Christain Knitterscheidt, Head of Product Management at Tarantula Global

This guest blog was written by Christian Knitterscheidt, Head of Product Management at Tarantula Global

The biggest driving factor for telecom operators is the ever increasing consumer demand for and faster data speeds from their mobile devices. This expansion of mobile usage presents a major growth opportunity to achieve greater revenue for telecom operators. However, this also means finding and securing a variety of sites and installing and managing complex combinations of equipment at these mobile sites.

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What do you see as the biggest opportunities to increase revenues from LTE in 2015?

Indoor LTE, VoLTE, M2M and Enterprise.

What are the new services that you think will bring the greatest revenue increases to the operator?

Enterprise market, M2M/IoT and Location based services.

How has the customer experience on LTE improved in the last 12 months? What effect is this having on subscriber numbers?

We have migrated customers from UMTS to LTE which resulted quite some MBB traffic offload to LTE. This translates to improved experience with higher throughput, lower latency and better quality of service.

How do you think Virtualisation can improve the LTE network? Are you planning to invest in such technologies?

I see virtualization as a potential network optimization. It will not only bring financial benefits but also time to market will be greatly reduced. We are already working on incorporating this technology.

What is your opinion on 5G? Is it something you are already beginning to think about at du?

To my understanding, there’s no consensus on air interface, architecture etc. within 3GPP at this point. Different players have different approaches. Having said that, I’m looking forward to the 3GPP’s announcement on Rel13& R14 technologies within this month. As an operator, we are always up to date about the progress of 5G and work very closely with vendors to ensure we are ready for this transition.

Learn more from Du and 150+ opreator companies at this year’s LTE World Summit 2015.

Nemanja Ognjanovic, Manager of Network and Services Planning Department at Telekom Srbija

Nemanja Ognjanovic, Manager of Network and Services Planning Department at Telekom Srbija

Ahead of the LTE World Summit next month I spoke with Nemanja Ognjanovic, Manager of Network and Services Planning Department at Telekom Srbija and one of our Operator Mindshare Leaders at the show. Nemanja told me how Telekom Srbija are innovating their network to handle the increasing demand in capacity today, and as they begin the evolution towards 5G.

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Voice over LTE Is becoming a reality for most leading operators, but what is next?

Here is what Pierre-Francois, VP of Product Development from Orange say’s in an exclusive interview:

Pierre-Francois Dubois          1. As we approach commercial launch, is there any clearer idea of whether VoLTE will truly compete or just complement OTT services?

Customers expect voice to come with network access and for 800MHz frequency bands, circuit switch fall back is not always available. VoLTE solves this problem. It also provides customers with a better experience (better quality, lower call set up time, less drop calls…). We don’t plan any “commercial launch” for VoLTE as it is not a new service, but we’ll probably communicate when we’ll have enough positive customers’ feedback, as we often do when we improve the quality of our network.

On the opposite we plan a real commercial launch in each country  where VoWiFi is implemented as it solves quite an old issue for some customers who have no GSM coverage at home. We know that being able to make and receive mobile calls at home is a strong expectation and customers may switch to another MNO  who provides them with a better coverage.

As long as nearly 100% of customers expect MNOs to provide them with a native and unlimited voice service, I don’t see VoLTE and OTT services competing. Both services will coexist as people communicate more and more through different media.

  1. Can we expect to see new and innovative services built on top of plain audio VoLTE?

Once VoLTE and VoWiFi are rolled out, we’ll be able to launch Enriched Calling, leveraging our investment in RCS. VoLTE is not necessary to launch Enriched Calling as it also works on Circuit Switch, but as we want to secure a full native experience, and not only rely on apps, we decided that EC would come after VoLTE. We are also considering Video over LTE as it is well standardized.

  1. What is the future, beyond VoLTE? What are the next steps in network development?

IMS/RCS/VoLTE plus additional services like Enriched Calling will take some time to be rolled out across our footprint and interconnected between MNOs. As investments are high, our main challenge in the network, will be to identify how to deliver a roadmap, which is today clear enough, as quickly as possible while removing unnecessary costs. As we operate in AMEA, this is a critical question for some of our affiliates where ARPU is low.

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Ahead of the 5G World Summit 2015, taking place on 24-25th June in Amsterdam, Mikio Iwamura, Director NTT DoCoMo & NGMN Work Stream lead, gives us his current views on the requirements of 5G networks and the services enabled by it!

Here is what Mikio says  ““5G” seems to encompass different aspects and you will probably get ten different answers if you talk to ten different people. “5G” is a convenient term and everyone wants to talk about it, but after all, it will just be a marketing term. Companies will use the term “5G” to encompass whatever they want to call “5G” when the time comes.

I think it is about time the industry needs to define concrete terms that represent different components of “5G”. For example, 3GPP will need to define a term that represents a new radio access technology, that will potentially have access to the IMT-2020 spectrum, once approved by ITU-R. This will be a 5G equivalent of “LTE” or “E-UTRA/ E-UTRAN”. 3GPP may also need to think what they will call LTE enhancements, beyond Rel-13. Another aspect is the future core network. Including NGMN, various consortia and companies are promoting the “network slicing” concept, that brings along more cost efficient and agile ways of provisioning services with disparate requirements by use of NFV and SDN technologies. The industry will need a new name to address the system that has this capability. This will be like “EPC” or “EPS”, but I think “packet” will not be the keyword here. Something along the lines of “poly-morphic system” seems to better describe the concept.

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Guest post written by Tarek Saadi, Vice President and Head of Sales, Ericsson Region Middle East and East Africa, Ericsson

Mobile operators around the world are implementing Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in order to support their existing 3G networks and offer uninterrupted mobile broadband services to their customers. According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report 2014 there were approximately 500 million mobile subscriptions to LTE, this is estimated to increase to 3.1 billion by 2020, globally. HSPA/GSM will continue to play an important role in providing complementary coverage in all markets, in addition to LTE which will be available in all regions.

The number of mobile subscriptions is growing globally, increasing by 6.9 billion in Q3 2014 alone, 375 million of this increase can be attributed to the Middle East (109% penetration). One of the main reasons for the rapid growth in smartphone subscriptions is that subscribers in the Middle East and Africa are exchanging their basic phones for smartphones. This is partly due to the increased availability of lower cost smartphones. At the end of 2014, mobile subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa were mainly GSM/EDGE only; however, with the rapid global growth of LTE, it is predicted that by 2020 85% of Middle East and Africa mobile subscriptions will be 3G/4G.

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This guest blog post was written by Matthew Tworney, Head of Product Marketing, IBM Now Factory, IBM

NPS (Net Promoter Score) as a concept started in 2003. It was developed by Fred Reicheld as part of Bain and Company and Sametrix, and now is a registered trademark. After initial adoption, the main reason why NPS became so important is that it has, in many studies, been directly correlated with business growth. If satisfaction among using services is improved, then revenue grows, which of course makes intuitive sense.

A key difference between Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) indexes and NPS is the way that the questions are phrased. CSAT scores tend to work on questions such as “how do you feel now about the service you just had?” This question is good for judging how satisfaction for services varies over short time periods—think of satisfaction cards in restaurants that people fill out. However, NPS bridges a gap in which NPS looks at how the subscriber feels holistically about the service. This approach is a broader metric to identify those who are happy, those who are thinking of leaving and those who may not do business with you again.

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This guest blog post was written by Kai Ojala, CTO, Anite Network Testing

The requirement for VoLTE is to offer high-quality voice calls and video calls, which as a baseline requires wide LTE coverage. LTE networks fulfill this aspect – especially lower carrier frequencies are deployed globally (e.g. 700 and 800 MHz frequency bands). Operators will benefit from customers switching to VoLTE services by harmonizing voice services and getting better capacity out of the spectrum.
Voice calls in LTE networks can be handled using Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) and Voice over LTE (VoLTE). CSFB provides a mechanism to transfer an initiated voice call to legacy circuit-switched networks. VoLTE, on the other hand, is a fully packet switched technology which uses Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies. With the SR-VCC functionality voice calls made with VoLTE can be switched over to legacy networks when the user moves out of the LTE network coverage.
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Philip Sorrells, Vice president of strategic marketing, Commscope

Philip Sorrells, Vice president of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

This Guest Post was written by Philip Sorrells, VP of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

Everybody’s talking about them, but what exactly is a small cell? In many people’s minds, a small cell is a very low power femto cell, installed in a home or office. It’s a radio device. In my mind (and in many others, too), a small cell is anything that is not a typical macro site, deployed to solve a network capacity problem.

Small cells can be indoor or outdoor. They can vary in power level. Some are carrier grade, some are for consumers. But what defines a small cell is not one of these characteristics, but rather what a small cell is trying to do-add capacity in some manner besides a standard macro site.

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This guest post was written by John Vetter, VP of Business Development, Sunsight

Directional RF antenna installations are not always dantennaone to carrier RF design specifications for azimuth, mechanical tilt and roll.  Some before/after audits have shown that as many as 40% of antennas are installed more than five degrees off target.  Using this audit data, simulations are possible with RF network propagation software and any market final design project.  These results will prove that even when using conservative misalignment changes that induced network interference can be costly to carriers specifically for newer interference prone LTE technologies.  Focusing just on carrier spectrum capital investment this number can easily become surprisingly high when considering large nationwide RF spectrum investments.   The cost of ‘wasted’ spectrum due to interference does not, but could consider additional costs of ‘unused’ BTS/RAN infrastructure, unnecessary network performance troubleshooting efforts, less the credible output from RF propagation, ACP and SON tools , and more important, the effects of poor customer data experiences  -all caused by misaligned RF antennas.

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This Guest Post was written by Art King, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies at SpiderCloud Wireless

Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

In our work with mobile operators to accelerate small cell systems inside medium to large enterprises, we have learned much over the last five years to create win-win formulas for enterprise IT and our mobile operator customers. It is hard-earned knowledge that only a seasoned executive team could have anticipated and managed by an experienced field team.

So, in the spirit of sharing our knowledge, here are “5 Small Cell System Do’s and Don’ts of Enterprise.”

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Don McCullough, Director Strategic Communications, Ericsson

Don McCullough, Director Strategic Communications, Ericsson

Ericsson made a splash at Mobile World Congress, describing and demonstrating their vision for 5G, and all the different use cases they envision for the technology.

Ahead of 5G Forum USA in Palo Alto in a couple of weeks, we had the opportunity to catch-up with Don McCullough, Director of Strategic Communications at Ericsson. During the interview, Don shared Ericsson’s work in innovating and defining the 5G landscape, their objectives and likely use cases for this next generation.

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The LTE World Series blog had the opportunity to speak with Alan Law, Chairman of the Small Cell Forum to discuss the latest SCF release, their next steps and what their key message at LTE World Summit in June will be.

For more information about LTE World Summit in Amsterdam, June 23rd-25th, please visit www.lteworldsummit.com

Manuel Vera, Senior Manager – Network (National Network Performance), Bell Mobility

Manuel Vera, Senior Manager – Network (National Network Performance), Bell Mobility

Please tell us about your role?

I am responsible for the introduction of new technology and network performance support.   I also have oversight of network performance trends and analysis.  Lastly, I develop processes to support new technologies as well as evaluate new solutions to better manage network performance.

What changes have you seen in the industry over the last 12 months?

The speed of technology turn over and adoption has changed dramatically.  It has gone from 10 Years, to 5 years, to recently a matter of 1 year. (AMPS -> CDMA -> EVDO -> 3G UMTS -> HSPA -> LTE -> LTE-A)

What are your priorities for the next year ahead?

It comes down to three key areas -small cells. continuing the ‘Speed Game’ (2xCarrier Aggregation, 3xCarrier Aggregation), and delivering connectivity and managing network performance at special events and large venues.

How can industry help overcome your current challenges?

There is a pipeline of technology that will drive network automation – Better SON features – complete dSON deployments and explore cSON systems.

In your opinion, why should medics and industry representatives attend HetNet North America in May 2015?

The event is a good way to learn about the industry and keep track of the latest trends.  I found over the years that in events such as this, we either ratify the direction we are taking or we rectify it based on our key takeaways.

For more information on HetNet North America, visit www.hetnetnorthamerica.com

The pocket sized Bolt! streams 4G to smartphones, tablets or laptops – making high speed LTE accessible on the move.

The pocket sized Bolt! streams 4G to smartphones, tablets or laptops – making high speed LTE accessible on the move.

The emerging markets of Asia (EMAP) could soon be the most important LTE markets in the World.

All eyes are on the emerging markets of Asia Pacific; countries including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam among others, as they begin to deploy and expand their LTE networks.

Studies show that EMAP is set to outstrip the developing markets of Asia Pacific (Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia) in terms of LTE subscribers by 2017, creating a tremendous opportunity for LTE players across the region. As demand grows, users will require connectivity throughout the region, meaning more complex networks, better service and competitive rates across the board. Read the rest of this entry »

José Otero, Director of Latin America & the Caribbean, 4G AMERICAS

José Otero, Director of Latin America & the Caribbean, 4G AMERICAS

Ahead of LTE Latin America 2015 in Rio de Janeiro next month, Informa’s LTE World Series team sat down with José Otero, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean at 4G Americas, to discuss the present and future of LTE in the region.

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The 5G World Alliance is partnering with Informa to promote Best Practices in Palo Alto 5G Forum USA 14-15th April 2015 and in the upcoming 5G World Summit 24-25th June, Amsterdam.

The 5G World Alliance is partnering with Informa to promote Best Practices in Palo Alto 5G Forum USA 14-15th April 2015 and in the upcoming 5G World Summit 24-25th June, Amsterdam.

The world’s first global organisation dedicated to the development and delivery of the Next Generation Worldwide Wireless Internet – known as 5G – was officially launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March.

The 5G World Alliance (5GWA) is to take a holistic, integrated approach across all technologies in order to gain support for seamless worldwide networking interoperability – empowering the end user through a truly end-to-end experience.

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sunsetSpectrum, the most valuable commodity in telecoms, has always been a key discussion point across the LTE World Series as operator try to maximise its usage to deliver the required capacity to subscribers.

Numerous different techniques to maximise spectrum are currently being trialled and deployed by LTE vendors and operators, including; Carrier aggregation, LTE-U and the implementation of spectrum efficient TD-LTE networks. However, as operators begin to transfer more traffic to their LTE networks, liberalising 2G spectrum becomes a viable method of increasing capacity.

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Aslam Hasan, VoLTE/HD Consulting Program Manager, AT&T Mobility

Aslam Hasan, VoLTE/HD Consulting Program Manager, AT&T Mobility

What is the current status of VoLTE deployments globally and how do operators see this long awaited service impacting the market? To find out I spoke to LTE MENA speaker and VoLTE/HD Consulting Program Manager for AT&T Mobility, Aslam Hasan.

“VoLTE deployments are now picking up around the globe” he said “and South East Asia is leading the way. Countries like Korea and Japan have had VoLTE deployed for almost a year; whereas in North America all the major carriers introduced the service in summer last year. Carriers in Latin and South America are still yet to announce the introduction of the service. However, with the launch of iPhone 6 and more VoLTE devices we will be expecting more deployments this year and beyond in almost all regions.”

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