Voice over LTE (VoLTE) infrastructure revenues doubled in the first quarter, according to the research firm Dell'Oro Group, as spending on the technology by carriers picks up ahead of deployments coming later this year and into early next year.
According to the research firm, spending on three key components of VoLTE is picking up speed. Dell'Oro's report found that overall licenses for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Call Session Control Function (CSCF) more than quadrupled in the first quarter versus the year-ago quarter, driven by VoLTE. The first quarter was also the first time that revenues for VoLTE-capable Wireless Voice Application Servers reached the tens of millions of dollars. Further, the research firm found that shipments of handsets with Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) capabilities will begin in 2011.
"The two main infrastructure components needed to build VoLTE services have been delivered by several vendors over the past few quarters, benefiting Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Nokia Siemens Networks and Mavenir Systems," said Dell'Oro analyst Chris DePuy. "We expect multiple operators will launch VoLTE services by the end of 2012 after they have tested their networks when affordable handsets are available."
DePuy also said there are signs that carriers will launch revenue-generating services such as video conferencing, location services, messaging and file sharing over LTE in the coming year. He said carriers are making these moves to counter over-the-top services.
MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) executives have said the company will launch two to three smartphones with Voice over LTE capabilities in the second half of this year. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) plans to have VoLTE in place by 2013. And Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said it will deploy the technology in late 2012 but will begin pushing it more broadly in mid-2013. According to research firm ARCchart, over 74 million VoLTE-enabled handsets will be in the global market by 2016.
The Dell'Oro report fits with another set of recent reports on VoLTE and IMS. Infonetics Research's Diane Myers said in the first quarter she noted "the largest order of IMS core equipment and application server licenses on record, secured by Alcatel-Lucent--a clear sign that operators in North America are gearing up for voice over LTE (VoLTE) deployments."
Infonetics's research showed that North American operators led in carrier VoIP and IMS spending during the first quarter of 2012, with outlays up 76 percent year-over-year. As operators gear up to offer VoLTE over the next five-plus years, "large equipment orders will be sporadic and the IMS market will continue to be lumpy," said Myers.
Separately, Exact Ventures said its research revealed the IMS core market in 2012's first quarter nearly tripled year-over-year, due in large part to significant VoLTE deployments in North America.
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