VoLTE is Voice over LTE. It’s a solution that allows operators to migrate to an all-IP network and still provide voice and SMS services the way they do today. And it is… not going to provide voice any time soon.
There are mainly two reasons why this is going to be the case: complexity, and value for the end users.
For a voice service the added value for the end user can be in adding a wideband voice codec, making their voice sound better. But that can be achieved with current circuit switching techniques as well. Other than that? nothing of importance.
On the complexity side, though, voice has it in droves. Why? Because you’ll need to support today’s features for voice calls:
- You need to gateway from VoIP calls to circuit switched calls. In droves there are a lot of these running on a network at each time and they definitely require more processing power than simple SMS.
- You need to support roaming. You can do that by gatewaying to circuit switching each time, which requires additional gateways on the network for roaming services.
- You need to be able to pass calls from LTE to GSM (VCC or FMC solutions), which is ridiculously complex. And you must have that, since people using their mobile phones tend to move around during calls (driving, riding on trains, walking, etc).
So ,you see, to implement voice calls over VoLTE there’s a lot more than just implementing VoLTE itself – things that may kill the initiative before it even beings.
This is why I think most service providers will start using VoLTE to do other things first – places where they bring real value to customers, or where the investment can return itself fast, SMS and video calling:
- SMS – migrating SMS to VoLTE means they are handled in ways that are way cheaper for the operator AND are easier to connect to web based APIs
- Video calling – something brand new, where no legacy stuff needs to be supported, and where roaming can be achieved through OTT instead of roaming agreements – at least in the initial phases.