GSA: VoLTE deployments reach 40 worldwide

The number of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) deployments has reached 40 worldwide, as mobile operators continue to focus on improving the quality of voice services by offering high-definition (HD) voice on 2G/3G and 4G networks.

According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), the total number of HD voice deployments including VoLTE now stands at 150 in 87 countries. Of these, 128 are on 3G networks and 17 are on 2G.

Indeed, VoLTE deployments have risen considerably in the past year. According to Alan Hadden, VP of research at the GSA, 10 months ago there were only 16 live VoLTE systems.

"The VoLTE market is advancing strongly and continues in 2015 as a main industry trend," Hadden noted.

The GSA has previously noted that 111 operators are investing in VoLTE in 52 countries and said 246 VoLTE-capable devices including 224 smartphones have been announced.

Both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling are important technologies for mobile operators as they seek to improve the quality and coverage of mobile voice services.

Earlier this year, Deloitte noted in its annual Mobile Consumer report that VoLTE will help operators halt the decline in revenue caused by the exodus of users to over-the-top (OTT) chat apps, for example.

"OTT VoIP may impact operators' bottom line in the long term. However, VoLTE could offset a potential decline in revenue, even if consumers do not end up paying more for VoLTE services," the research company said.

The European market has witnessed several VoLTE launches this year. For example, Three UK, Bouygues Telecom (with commercial trials in France), Vodafone Germany, and Smile Telecom in East Africa were the first to launch the service in their respective markets.

Wi-Fi calling, meanwhile, also offers operators a way to take back control by enabling them to provide voice services in areas where they have little or no coverage due to poor signal strength.

In the UK, for example, both EE and Vodafone UK launched Wi-Fi calling in 2015. The operators took the approach of embedding the service in the smartphone so it can be accessed via the normal phone dialler. This contrasts with the apps-based strategy of rivals Three UK, which offers VoWi-Fi via the Three InTouch app, and O2 UK, which uses the TU Go app.

For more:
- see the GSA release

Related articles:
Bouygues Telecom launches VoLTE on a limited basis
The rise and fall and rise of operator mobile voice
Smile claims VoLTE first for East Africa
EE, Vodafone UK and Three UK choose different paths for Wi-Fi calling
Juniper Research: Active VoLTE connections to exceed 1B by 2018