Christian Menini, Project Director Wireless and LTE, Swisscom is giving a real life case study about Swisssom’s LTE deployment on Day One of the LTE Voice Summit, taking place on October 7th-8th 2014 at the Royal Garden Hotel, London.
What are you expecting and hoping for from the commercial launch on VoLTE?
The commercial launch of VoLTE, which we are aiming for next year at Swisscom as well, really does have the potential to get the ball rolling. With VoLTE, the MNP are completing the technological change that will enable them to further develop mobile voice communication, as one of their most important assets, and reposition it.
I believe the good old “voice service” may experience a small “renaissance”. Over the past few years voice has been forced into the background by all of the new communication forms. But I’m convinced: Voice is not only noise.
As we approach commercial launch is there any clearer idea of whether VoLTE will truly compete or will it just complement OTT services?
I see VoLTE and the associated technology change as an “enabler”. VoLTE builds the bridges which combine the two worlds of voice (telco grade) and data (all kind of apps) with one another without affecting the respective benefits of these two areas.
With the properties of seamless mobility, quality, nativeness and interoperability, VoLTE will in future be the first choice for a voice service. For other services that go beyond voice, VoLTE might be a great complement to OTT services to add quality voice to their specific apps.
How are you approaching pricing for VoLTE? Will an eventual lower-cost-per bit mean reduced consumer pricing or rather is there a need to recoup CAPEX by raising voice prices?
Swisscom is a pioneer with regard to flat tariffs: two years ago Swisscom had already introduced unlimited voice, SMS/MMS and data with its “Infinity” price plans. And what’s more, “Infinity” also means no additional costs for 4G/LTE. The individual offers only differ with regard to the purchased bandwidths. Since the very successful introduction of these price plans, more than 55 per cent of our postpaid customers have chosen this offer. In addition to the pleasing increase in ARPU, these offers obviously also result in a significant increase in data traffic that we have to handle in our network. At the moment, we assume that VoLTE (at least the voice service) will be included in these price plans without any change in price.
Can we expect to see new and innovative services built on top of plain audio VoLTE?
Once the ball I mentioned at the beginning has gotten rolling, VoLTE will have achieved a greater level of maturity and as all market participants get involved it can be expected that new, extended services will emerge, which will change and enrich telephone calls. Swisscom is, for example, currently working on the development of WLAN offloading for voice (also known as Wi-Fi-Calling), which is based on the VoLTE technology, using WLAN interworking. Significant potential also exists in relation to the intelligent mash-up of applications (e.g. OTT) with VoLTE. But the “killer app” is and will continue to be good quality voice, in my opinion!
What the future, beyond VoLTE? What are the next steps in network development?
In addition to the envisaged VoLTE launch in the second half of 2015, Swisscom will continue to expand its already considerable LTE coverage over the coming months. By mid 2014 94 per cent of the Swiss population were already able to use 4G/LTE.
LTE Advanced (300Mbps) has been commercially available at some locations since summer. And with WLAN interworking, we are bringing mobile telephony and WLAN closer together (keyword: Wi-Fi calling).
What are you most looking forward to about attending LTE Voice
I am looking forward to exchanging ideas and information with other colleagues from the sector. I am also eager to experience the spirit which will soon be noticeable with VoLTE and the voice services of the future! And even if this has been prophesied many times over the past few years: next year things will really get going! Be part of it!