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.”
What have been the problems with launching VoLTE that have meant it’s taken so long to deploy?
The fact that all the Voice call controls have to be shifted into IMS was the major enhancement and took a long time to solidify. Some would argue that IMS provides Voice Services to home and business customers through VoIP. However, in reality VoIP/IMS was not built for mobile devices. Additionally, the other side of the LTE network was designed originally for data networks and was prone to packet loss over the channel especially if the radio coverage was not optimized. As we know, in VoLTE the voice is packetized and any packet loss means degraded voice quality. This could lead to dropped calls due to missed communications between the device and IMS. The standards were also not very clearly understood by vendors and were evolved and agreed upon after long discussions among various architects from the Device, Mobility and IMS worlds.
How do you think VoLTE deployment will affect the network? What challenges do you envision 6-8 months down the line?
Once carriers move voice services completely onto their LTE networks there will be a huge savings on their OPEX. However as I mentioned, VoLTE means more IP packets and carriers will see exponential growth in their IP network especially if they add any Rich Communication Services like WebRTC that has a capability to transfer HD Voice calls from any Computer to Smart Phone. Considering this, carriers need to be ready and plan accordingly to handle these data services and come up with agile methodologies to quickly test and launch services to end-users with minimum impact to their networks.
How do you think consumers will benefit from VoLTE?What are the key benefits of upgrading the service?
The reduced call setup time and the improved voice quality with less dropped calls will be the key benefits to the customers. In addition, it will be much easier to embed RCS services such as gaming, video calling or voice calls to the browser, as well as enterprise features onto their devices, simply due to the fact that their phone is registered in IMS.
Will operators who are late-to-market with VoLTE be at a disadvantage? Or will they have an advantage because they will be able to leverage the lessons learned previous deployments?
There is definitely an advantage in learning from previous deployments; however they will miss out on packaged rich communication services that can easily be opened up for development using various APIs within IMS.
Why do you think the LTE MENA event is so important and what are you hoping to learn from the show in 2015?
MENA is one of the fastest growing markets for mobile users. One of the major problems that Mobile Operators are facing is losing visibility of their networks due to the arrival of new OTT players and increasing network complexity. Forums like LTE MENA will be a great place to network; application and device manufacturers will be able to brainstorm together, understand this new world of communication, and come up with the deployment architecture to enable better visibility and control of networks. It will be great to learn how carriers and service providers are getting ready to tackle the exponential data and voice traffic growth and come up with the new revenue streams by enabling new rich communication services and billing models.
Aslam will be one of the featured speakers at this year’s LTE MENA 2015. For more information, visit our website here