This post is by Ben McCafferty, VP EMEA, Volubill
By the end of 2016, research and analysis firm IDATE predicts that the number of global LTE subscriptions will reach 915 million. Right now, we’re barely over 100 million worldwide. As networks are inundated with rapidly increasing traffic volumes and quality of service (QoS) expectations from users, they’re looking to policy platforms for assistance.
It’s no secret that the expansion of 4G/LTE networks is being outpaced by the growing number of subscribers and their increasing demands for reliable and robust services. Mobile operators are working double time just to try and keep up. In the meantime, users will often find themselves traveling between coverage areas serviced by newer 4G/LTE networks and older, legacy 2G and 3G ones. This represents one of the biggest challenges facing mobile operators today.
While 4G/LTE networks have enough bandwidth to enable operators to offer voice and data services over the same technology stacks — we know this as Voice over LTE, or VoLTE — those older networks don’t. Instead, they separate voice and data into different streams. So, what happens when a subscriber is on a call and crosses over from a 4G network coverage area to one serviced by a legacy network? The answer: dropped calls, slowed or failed downloads, and a number of other inconveniences, any one of which could prompt customers to take their business elsewhere.
Policy vendors are tasked with evolving their technologies in order to help mobile operators offer high-quality coverage for both data and voice, without being tripped up every time a subscriber moves from a 4G coverage area to one running on an older analog technology. Subscribers don’t care if operators are in the midst of network transitions. They want 4G/LTE and the QoS they have come to expect with it. They don’t want to hear about legacy systems or complications. In their minds, if manufacturers are making so many 4G/LTE devices, networks must be able to support them without difficulty.
That’s exactly why mobile operators are relying on policy vendors to come up with a solution — one that makes the transition smoother, faster, and undetectable to their subscribers, all while maintaining the highest QoS possible. It’s a challenge that will require innovation and creativity — and the clock is ticking.
Next week, at LTE Africa, I will be speaking on policy vendors’ role in the success of VoLTE, as well as how operators can capitalise on the booming African mobile market. Don’t forget to stop by and say hi!
The LTE Africa conference is taking place on the 9th-10th July 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Click here to download the brochure for the event.