Ericsson announced that upgrades to Vodafone Netherlands' (NL) core network have enabled the operator to launch the first cloud-based, fully virtualised, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Wi-Fi calling service in the country.
The project saw Ericsson deploy its NFV-enabled IP multimedia subsystem and evolved packet core, alongside virtual network functions (VNF) for Wi-Fi calling, policy control and application server domain. The infrastructure vendor said the end-to-end VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling overlay enables Vodafone NL to offer subscribers fast call set up times, HD voice quality, and a broader range of IP-based services including video calling over LTE.
Valter D'Avino, head of Western and Central Europe at Ericsson, said the equipment utilised can "automatically scale within a telecom cloud and fulfil telecom-grade service availability."
The equipment "provides Vodafone with a complete solution to evolve their voice and SMS business toward an all-IP communications network based in the cloud," D'Avino added.
Matthias Sauder, head of networks at Vodafone NL, said network virtualisation presents the operator with "huge opportunities for efficiency and agility," and enables the company to quickly launch "new IP-based communication services".
With regard to VoLTE rollouts generally, deployments are quickly gaining traction globally according to figures from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). The association in January announced that 46 operators in 29 countries had launched HD voice services using VoLTE globally, up from 40 deployments in mid-December. A total of 118 operators in 56 countries were investing in VoLTE deployments, studies or trials by the end of January -- including the commercial launches -- the GSA stated.
In 2015, operators including Three UK, Bouygues Telecom and Vodafone Germany all detailed plans to trial and deploy VoLTE services. Meanwhile, operators including EE and Vodafone UK launched Wi-Fi calling services during the year, in a bid to compete with app-based Wi-Fi services offered by rivals Three UK and O2 UK.
Despite all the market traction, interoperability between different networks remains an obstacle for operators. Vodafone's Italian business in February announced it was conducting VoLTE interoperability tests with TIM, for example.
Ericsson continues to play its part here. The vendor in February announced it had completed interoperability testing of its evolved packet core and IP multimedia subsystem with Taiwan-headquartered chipset vendor MediaTek, in a move that Ericsson said would ultimately boost the availability of mobile devices capable of connecting to Wi-Fi calling services.
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