Nokia is singing the praises of Voice over LTE (VoLTE), noting that fast call setup and crystal-clear voice quality are two of the main subscriber benefits of the technology.
Of course, besides improving the voice experience for subscribers, VoLTE brings numerous advantages for operators, including new business opportunities and a cost-effective single core, according to a blog post by Ismo Matilainen, who’s responsible for Nokia Global LTE voice evolution marketing.
Matilainen spelled out several key areas in which VoLTE delivers substantial benefits for operators, including the ability to gain higher spectral efficiency. In fact, LTE offers twice the spectral efficiency of 3G/HSPA and more than six times the efficiency of GSM, freeing up more capacity for data and allowing VoLTE to handle twice as many calls.
He also points out that running data services on LTE and voice services on a separate 2G/3G network makes little sense in the long term. “Putting the voice and data domains on the same LTE network makes better use of network resources, reduces network and service management and simplifies service delivery, all of which reduce costs,” he wrote.
Because VoLTE and Rich Communications Service (RCS) are based on the same IP Multimedia subsystem (IMS), VoLTE supports RCS multimedia services, including privacy, buddy lists, presence, video share, video call, multimedia messaging, chat and file transfer, he noted.
The biggest operators in the U.S. already have deployed VoLTE. In 2016, Verizon and AT&T started offering interoperable VoLTE to some customers, meaning customers on both networks could place VoLTE calls with each other.
T-Mobile also has boasted that it has VoLTE on 100% of its LTE network, and Sprint has said it’s on track to begin commercial deployment of VoLTE starting this fall. Even though there’s an LTE roaming deal between T-Mobile and its proposed partner Sprint, that's all about data and not voice.
As of the second quarter of 2018, more than 140 mobile operators have commercially launched VoLTE services, according to SNS Telecom & IT. The research firm estimates that VoLTE service revenue will grow at a CAGR of about 30% between 2018 and 2021.
By the end of 2021, VoLTE subscriptions will account for more than $280 billion in annual service revenue. Although traditional voice services will constitute a major proportion of this figure, more than 16% of the revenue will be driven by voice-based IoT applications, video calling and supplementary services, according to SNS.