08 Aug 2011

Current VoLTE Development and Deployment (Page 2 of 2)

As we discussed more about VoLTE, other questions about its deployment became more obvious. Operators, clearly need to be aware of what VoLTE is and its advantages.

VoLTE needs to be understood to enable all the advantages to be gained from its use. With its adoption by GSMA, all operators need to adopt it.

The other solutions that were considered some time back will not now be standard, and all operators will need to adopt a common standard.

What are the advantages of going with VoLTE vs. other solutions (e.g. VoIP)?

There are many advantages to IP and LTE voice offerings. VoIP has significantly advanced and evolved modern communications services and VoLTE will take this evolution to the next level. Over-the-top voice services may attempt to compete with VoLTE. However, given that the operator has complete control over the network, their services will be far superior compared to the over-the-top voice services – just like 3G voice is today.

What do operators need to be aware of when rolling out VoLTE?

When we talk about LTE, I think it is important that operators do not see it is as the evolution of 3G, but really as an IP access means. A lot of people now are looking at LTE as an alternative to DSL. There are large regions where customers cannot get DSL but they will be able to access an LTE network. Consequently, VoLTE is going to enable MNOs to extend their market reach.

However, MNOs are faced with a struggle. Today they make the majority of their money from traditional voice services but minutes are declining every month. Furthermore, with the introduction of LTE, if operators do not provide value added services, the over- the- top players will.

So MNOs need to ensure their traditional revenue streams keep growing, while also offering new services. Just replacing voice services is not enough; they need to offer something more.

Who will be the first operator to roll out LTE? Has testing already started?

The momentum behind LTE is enormous. And it has to be. MNOs now have little option when it comes to evolving their networks to keep pace with the burgeoning demand for high-speed data applications. Like I said earlier on, if the operators do not support these applications and offer value added services, then there will be an OTT player who will. The reality is that data is increasingly becoming the single largest component of network traffic.

Both Verizon, who on July 18th, announced it would be rolling out its LTE network to an additional 28 US cities making it available in over 100 regions and TeliaSonera, who is extending its LTE network into Latvia, after launching their service in all its Nordic and Baltic territories, are leading the field in the rollout of LTE.

An additional 54 operators in 20 more countries are engaged in LTE technology pilot trials or tests, ahead of formal commitments to deploy networks for commercial service (these are referred to as pre-commitment trials). Taken together, it means that 208 operators in 80 countries are now investing in LTE.

According to the LTE survey BroadSoft sponsored, approximately three quarters of all operators surveyed said they plan to launch an LTE network in the future, with 42% already deploying or trialling LTE.

So it comes as no surprise that the GSMA has named LTE as the fastest developing mobile technology ever.

Will the biggest opportunity for VoLTE be in the business or consumer space?

Initially it will be consumer. From the survey we conducted, forty five percent of operators said they weren’t ready to offer LTE as an enterprise solution. However, sixty three percent indicated they already offer unified communications services for their enterprise customers. A high number, but on closer inspection this was more around BlackBerry type offerings.

In addition, sixty-six percent of operators said that VoIP and unified communications are ‘very important’ and ‘quite important’ to an enterprise offering. When you look at that in comparison with the forty-five percent who said they were not ready to offer LTE to enterprises it is quite interesting. From this data, it’s reasonable to assume that business services will take a greater role in VoLTE (4G) vs. 3G.

What tangible improvement will we see with UC over LTE?

The key improvements will be that individuals can stay connected anywhere, anytime and from a variety of devices including smartphones and tablets.

Will there be many MVNO opportunities with LTE networks? Will operators see this as a wholesale revenue generating venture?

Given that LTE opens a whole new set of service opportunities for the mobile operator (above and beyond traditional voice, SMS and data) it’s pretty exciting to think of the possibilities with LTE for operators. You could envision large nationwide and global retailers bringing to market devices that incorporate cloud-based services like Video chat, streaming, etc.

There can be no doubt that LTE will be a game changer whether the operator owns the network or leverages a wholesale network.

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About the author

As Chief Technology Officer, Scott Hoffpauir is responsible for guiding the technical vision and direction for BroadSoft as well as promoting continuous product innovation. Prior to co-founding BroadSoft and serving as Vice President, Engineering since 1998, Hoffpauir was Director of GSM Development at Celcore (DSC/Alcatel USA). In this role, he was responsible for all product development on the GSM switching product, including system architecture, product requirements, software development, hardware development, system test/integration and product/customer support. Hoffpauir played a key role in setting up customer trials and providing sales support and served as representative to the GSM SMG standards body.

BroadSoft, Inc. provides software that enables fixed-line, mobile and cable service providers to deliver voice and multimedia services over their IP-based networks. The Company’s software, BroadWorks, enables service providers to provide enterprises and consumers with a range of cloud-based, or hosted, IP multimedia communications, such as hosted IP private branch exchanges, video calling, unified communications, collaboration and converged mobile and fixed-line services.

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