Friday, October 12, 2012

Is VoLTE poised to be a platform for innovation?

Now we’ll see what Voice over LTE can do.

The service known as VoLTE recently went live in South Korea on both the SK Telecom and LG U+ networks, as well as in one market for MetroPCS in the US.

And LTE also continues to spread fast, with the GSA predicting there will be 195 LTE networks in 72 countries by end of 2013 (up from 159 networks in 68 countries at the end of 2012).

And if operators truly want voice to work in this new LTE environment – if they want to give their users a good experience – they will need VoLTE, which gives them the opportunity to provide telecom-grade services to compete against the likes of Skype.

It’s not a surprise that South Korea is the leading VoLTE market.  We examined the country in May and found it on the cutting edge of most telecom trends, from smartphone adoption to the OTT challenge to operators.

We talked to Gabriel Brown, of Heavy Reading, to get some insight into the Korean VoLTE launch. He also said Korea – with its early LTE adoption – was a logical starting point for VoLTE.  VoLTE requires good LTE coverage and ideally would be supported by multiple operators. Korea has that.

But there is also national pride at stake.

“It is also an opportunity for Korea and the Korean telecom industry to demonstrate their prowess globally,” he said. “By being first, they can show their expertise internationally.”

But what about the service itself? In an interview with Telecom Asia, Ian Koh of Ericsson, makes a compelling case for the benefits of fast call connections with VoLTE.

Of course, the most crucial role for VoLTE is as the platform for new services like HD voice and video calling. And FierceWireless says the proposed MetroPCS merger with T-Mobile could spur VoLTE innovation in the US, even though MetroPCS is not yet marketing the service and says it will take four to six months before they have VoLTE up and running in all their markets.

Brown, of Heavy Reading, says that while there hasn’t been huge demand for VoLTE yet, there is “a need for reliable, secure, rich communication services.”

That is exactly what telecom does well, he says:
Even if consumers are not aware, in the industry there has been enough development for us to come to the conclusion that more operators will launch services in 2013, and it will become more mainstream from 2015 and onward.
So what do you think?  Should operators make VoLTE a priority as they roll out LTE?


  1. I think the biggest reason for VoLTE is that the operators can turn off their GSM and CDMA networks, making the phones and their networks much simpler (100% IP based) and opening up more bandwidth for LTE.

  2. Hi Newton, thanks for your comment. You make a good point!

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