Telefónica Deutschland's pending completion of its acquisition of domestic rival E-Plus is not stopping the latter investing in network developments, with the company launching commercial trials of voice over LTE (VoLTE).
Chinese infrastructure vendor ZTE revealed it has deployed an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network for E-Plus that will enable the operator to launch commercial VoLTE services. ZTE stated E-Plus deployed the IMS core over the past few months, and has now begun testing VoLTE services.
Christoph Bladoschewski, department manager for Voice and Services at E-Plus, said the IMS network is the latest step in a long collaboration with ZTE, and that the speed of deployment "is a true masterpiece" by the Chinese vendor.
The new network will also improve the profitability of E-Plus' network, added Li Jun, CEO of ZTE Deutschland. "ZTE's VoLTE solution will help E-Plus to provide high-quality voice services and guarantee high-bandwidth data services based on LTE access," he said.
ZTE explained in a statement that it has provided full 3G fall back capabilities to E-Plus, meaning when LTE users move out of range their voice calls will revert back to the operator's existing network. The Chinese company rolled out an enhanced single RAN voice call continuity function to enable a smooth transition of calls between the networks, it said.
While the start of testing is a step in the right direction for E-Plus, a senior Qualcomm executive last week noted that coverage is the key element in the success of VoLTE. Serge Willenegger, VP of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, told journalists attending the company's 3G and LTE Summit in Hong Kong that coverage remains the only hurdle to large-scale VoLTE deployments, as most technical barriers have now been overcome.
Analysts at Infonetics Research in July noted that a lack of compatible handsets could hinder deployment of VoLTE services, and said the business case for the service is weak because the investment in IMS may not be recouped amid falling voice revenues.
The research company also revealed that 83 per cent of global operators plan to deploy VoLTE by 2016, compared to 3 per cent today.
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