Telefónica Deutschland is ready to take a leading role in Europe as one of the first operators to deploy a commercial voice over LTE (VoLTE) service.
The operator--which became Germany's largest by subscriber numbers after completing an acquisition of domestic rival E-Plus in September--is one of the first in Europe to upgrade its network to enable VoLTE, said Ericsson, which is supplying the technology for the service.
The Sweden-headquartered infrastructure company said that VoLTE is available throughout Telefónica Deutschland's existing LTE network, and that the operator will launch the service once key elements are in place, including commercial quantities of compatible mobile devices.
Karsten Schröder, head of Converged Solutions at Telefónica Deutschland, said VoLTE represents the culmination of six years of work to upgrade the company's network to IMS. "With the advent of VoLTE, we were able to harvest the fruits [of the IMS investment] by re-using the very same IMS core for our mobile customers," he said.
The company's work on VoLTE shows it "is not just a standard, but can be used in a real-life multi-vendor environment," Schröder said, adding: "As a result, the convergent architecture allows us today to deliver seamless services agnostic to the physical access by which the customer is connected to our network."
Ericsson said the VoLTE infrastructure it provided will enable Telefónica Deutschland to offer high quality video calling and conferencing, and collaboration services. The technology will also provide high definition (HD) voice to subscribers, which Ericsson said offers instant call set up, and the ability to run concurrent with a user's data session.
"Telefónica is now able to provide a modern communications experience for their users on the latest LTE smartphones," noted Anders Lindblad, head of Ericsson's Cloud and IP business unit.
A lack of compatible handsets was identified as a key barrier to VoLTE service launches at the LTE Voice Summit in London earlier this month. Speakers noted that device features are not always uniform across all handsets, and that even apparently simple trends such as growing demand for dual-SIM handsets presents problems to the rollout of the technology.
CCS Insight recently forecast that LTE-enabled devices will comprise at least half of all mobile phone shipments in 2014, but predicts take up of the devices will be slow through to the end of 2015.
- see this Ericsson press release
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