A superior new way to deliver voice calls – Voice over LTE (VoLTE) – promises to increase network efficiency and can improve voice quality significantly. While the notion of VoLTE is hardly a new topic, industry experts are abuzz about the potential rate of adoption over the next 12 to 18 months. And the upgrade won’t be without its challenges.
Though operators have spent billions of dollars launching the latest LTE networks for data, the majority of voice calls on mobile networks still use legacy circuit-switched technology. Older networks were foundationally built for voice traffic with additional data pipes added for the increasing use of applications and data, but newer networks have focused on data in the all-IP extension furthered by LTE. To maximize efficiency and manage costs, operators must aim to transition legacy voice channels to IP through the latest standard, VoLTE.
The process involves numerous technical challenges, as intricate network parameters must be fine-tuned, equipment installed, and mobile devices constructed with necessary upgraded chipsets. In addition to keeping pace with competitors’ VoLTE implementation, it will be imperative for operators to maintain the quality of service that end users expect throughout the transition. In particular, there are two areas of focus that must be considered priorities:
ENSURING VOICE SERVICE QUALITY REMAINS FLAWLESS
A critical aspect of VoLTE is that end users are not expecting much difference in how voice calls sound, although better quality and enhanced services are major opportunities. For this reason, it’s important that operators have clear plans for limiting fallback and dropped calls, ensuring minimal declines in service quality and continuity. End users will base their LTE expectations on their 3G experiences, anticipating voice service to work seamlessly and ubiquitously. Rightfully so, there will be very little patience for VoLTE implementation complications, meaning operators must weigh the opportunity to take the lead in VoLTE implementation against the pains involved with the breaking ground/fine-tuning of the new technology.
PREPARING FOR THE SEAMLESS HANDLING OF THREE ROAMING MARKETS
Operators will face a roaming marketplace fragmented into three types: markets with no LTE service, markets with both LTE and 3G service, and markets with LTE-only service. Consequently, operators must carefully plan for a number of roaming situations scenarios to minimize disruptions. Above all, they must ensure that VoLTE calls will seamlessly access older technologies when users move to areas with no LTE service, and that end users with VoLTE service stay as connected as possible to available LTE service to ensure minimal disruption.
Broad VoLTE adoption marks an exciting era in which voice will become yet another data application, like email, that will enable operators to move toward a more simplified data-centric revenue model. The true test will lie in finding the ideal balance in migrating quickly, and seamlessly, to this new standard.