VoLTE Deployments

LTE Voice Summit Not Only About Voice

My takeaways from the LTE Voice Summit

Earlier this month I spoke at the LTE Voice Summit. As promised, slides are now available on SlideShare.

A few important notes from the event.

VoLTE – 11 service providers and counting

LTE was launched by 331 service providers worldwide. Once LTE has been launched, adding VoLTE to the mix makes sense to the service provider as it reduces their OPEX, saves spectrum and improves user experience by allowing for better voice quality, longer battery life and other benefits.

To date, VoLTE has been launched by 11 service providers.

60 others are in trials and planning.

VoLTE Deployments

 

Voice quality

Speaking with service providers that already launched VoLTE and have field experience and feedback, I heard there are issues when connecting calls between VoLTE and non-VoLTE networks.

Doing a one-size-fits-all transcoding to G.711 when exiting the VoLTE network is not a good solution.

There was a great presentation by Michael Thelander from Signals Research Group that compared quality over VoLTE vs. Skype. No surprise here, quality over VoLTE was better; they could have saved the dollars spent on the research. As VoLTE was built for real-time communication while Skype and other OTTs run over the data network, it is only expected that these would be the results.

The same applies to battery life. Since VoLTE is pre-integrated with the phone, things are better optimized. This includes video codecs that can be HW accelerated in native clients and other algorithms such as acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) that can run on the chip level. These yield better quality and lower battery consumption.

The more interesting question would be to test VoLTE to a VoIP client over a WiFi network and compare that to an OTT like Viber. In such a case, VoLTE has problems such as those I presented in my earlier post and in my presentation at the conference.

For these problems , AudioCodes presents a pretty compelling solution that comprises a smart entity (SBC) that resides in the core of the network and makes decisions with regards to transcoding, transrating, call routing and call properties negotiation (bit rate, codec, resiliency…). It uses network monitoring information and communicates with other network elements to apply its policy. Feel free to contact me for detailed information.

Services are based on RCS

Even though this was a conference about voice, services were mainly related to RCS. Service providers are continuing the RCS path and believe that once RCS will be fully integrated with the phone as default, users will use it.

I believe that service providers should manage a mix of “service provider OTT” with RCS in order to remain relevant. Offering only standard RCS capabilities will make differentiation hard as all service providers will offer the same thing with pretty much the same user interface as defined by the GSMA.

To that end, I presented this issue to David Hutton from the GSMA on a panel discussion. I believe that the decision of the GSMA to standardize everything in RCS right up to the user experience is a dreadful mistake, it is one of the reasons for the failure of RCS and imposes unnecessary limitations on the service providers. To my surprise, he agreed.

In conclusion:

  • VoLTE is happening.
  • Service providers that have already launched VoLTE services are starting to experience the complexity of connecting VoLTE to other networks.
  • Service providers understand that VoLTE by itself will not provide the required added value services and are looking for those services in RCS. They should combine these with their own OTT services in order to differentiate.