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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.