Initially, Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks were deployed in order to address an ever increasing demand for faster mobile data speeds. However, the latest report from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) highlights growing momentum around a new and different use case for this all-IP mobile network. Specifically, at least 25 mobile operators across 16 countries have commercially launched voice services running “over the top” of their LTE networks, and a further 100 operators are currently in the process of evaluating this new voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) service.
Given that applications such as Skype and Whatsapp long ago leveraged first mover advantage and captured a dominant market share in the over-the-top (OTT) real time communications space, the question to ask is whether VoLTE simply offers cost reduction opportunities through data and voice network consolidation, or does it also empower mobile operators to take back market share from their OTT rivals? A review of the (globally endorsed) VoLTE technical specification (IR.92) provides an unequivocal answer to this question – VoLTE introduces fundamental technical innovations that will translate into a growing competitive advantage for mobile operators as the service rolls out globally.
VoLTE differentiators with practical value for both consumer and business users alike include the ability to support shorter call set-up times, and the ability to guarantee longer mobile phone battery life. Additionally, through the use of high definition (HD) audio codecs, VoLTE delivers clearer calls and reduced background noise, effectively giving users the impression that their called party is standing right beside them! Finally, unlike the familiar OTT services that are provided on a “best effort” basis over shared data channels, VoLTE is designed to provide users with an ability to simultaneously talk and browse, while still ensuring a guaranteed voice call QoS.
With islands of coverage now emerging, VoLTE service providers are building bridges not only to each other, but also to the circuit switched PLMN and PSTN networks. In order to interconnect users, VoLTE standards mandate the use of a simplified IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core network, ostensibly to ensure service provider interoperability across disparate media formats and diverse signaling protocols globally. However, by standardizing on IMS as a network foundation, operators have also positioned themselves to ultimately compete directly against their OTT rivals simply by combining their VoLTE services with IMS-based Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as presence, instant messaging, and multimedia content sharing. Ultimately, in the longer term as critical mass builds for VoLTE IMS networks, mashups with RCS multimedia services promise to provide mobile operators with globally interoperable real time communications solutions that none of today’s OTT players could possibly match.
With a presence in 48 of the top 50 mobile networks, Dialogic understands operator challenges and specializes in providing IMS VoLTE roaming and interconnect solutions with products such as the PowerMedia™ XMS, ControlSwitch™ System, and BorderNet™ Diameter Services Helix.