In its second year, the LTE Voice 2014 conference proved to be a hit from the off, with standing room only in the hall for the opening keynotes.
Starting us off, Philippe Lucas, senior vice president for standardization and eco-systems development at Orange delivered an overview of the carrier’s views of VoLTE and noted that legacy networks were holding it back, and that it wants to move to an all-IP more quickly. He also said that while carriers were confident after launching VoLTE, many were first launching voice over Wi-Fi first.
He also made the claim that Apple’s support for Voice over Wi-Fi demonstrated a “lack of confidence in FaceTime,” which seems a bit of a bold statement. It does indicate that Apple sees the importance of carrier-grade technology, but it remains to be seen if FaceTime will die a death.
When it comes to VoLTE, no one has more experience that the South Korean operators and Joong-Gunn Park of SK Telecom’s Network Technology R&D Center was up next. SK Telecom markets its VoLTE offering as HD Voice, which shows exactly where it believes the emphasis lies. Park said its users were very satisfied with VoLTE, highlighting the upgrade in voice quality, the speed of connection and the ability to browse during calls as major benefits. It also presented a number of new service opportunities that VoLTE provides, such as including call spam filters and yellow pages integration.
Later on at the conference LTEU+ was also up on stage demoing the UI of using the phone and multitasking in action – for the rest of the world it’s a taste of the future. One particular use case that stood out was the ability to screen share and share the view of the camera while on a call – enabling users feel ‘more connected’.
Vendor Amdocs took to the stage, and its view was that VoLTE was a genuine opportunity to create a real service experience and monetize it. Examples given were to provide a ‘turbo’ button that would enable a user to upload content at an event such as a concert where normally they would not get service due to congestion. It was all about building “business agility to create interesting scenarios.”
This contrasted with the panel session, with two operators, SK Telecom and Orange, and two vendors, Metaswitch and Opencloud, who all agree that VoLTE itself was not about monetization – but was about the services that were built on top of it to create user value, increase satisfaction and reduce churn. However, there was some disagreement about the role of APIs. While SK Telecom has earlier championed them its presentation, Francois Dubois, VP product development at Orange and Piers Finlayson, vice president of product management for Metaswich agreed that opening up APIs were crucial to create more value and revenue. However, Mark Windle, head of marketing for OpenCloud was less sure describing ‘relying’ on third-parties to create value as “an exercise in waiting to get lucky.” As ever in life, a combined approach would seem to be the most sensible way forward.
In the morning we also got to hear Oracle’s vision of direct monetization from VoLTE, Huawei showing us that the KPI for VoLTE were superior to that of circuit switch calls, and Sprint, who explained that the low data rates for VoLTE meant that performance could be maintained even at the cell edge.
Overall, positivity was the take away from the morning session, and there was a sense of satisfaction that carriers are increasingly getting their collective acts together regarding VoLTE.
Be sure to follow the rest of the conversation on Twitter via the hash tag #LTEVoice