Light Reading

How Will Apple Support LTE Voice Services?

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is looking for telephony software engineers to work on new iOS products, according to job postings on the company's website, but it's not clear from the job descriptions exactly how the device maker plans to support voice services on LTE smartphones.

Will Apple follow the current consensus among mobile operators and support voice over LTE (VoLTE), which is based on IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), or will it go its own way?

According to an Apple spokesman, that's not a question the company would answer.

One of the job descriptions, calls for someone with "experience in SIP, real-time transport protocol (RTP), and VoIP related protocols," as well as "familiarity with telecommunication network architectures: GSM/UMTS, CDMA, VoIP, IMS."

The mention of IMS in a job posting doesn't indicate that Apple will ultimately support IMS in its operating system, but it does suggest that the company is working on a voice strategy for all-IP LTE mobile broadband networks.

Analysts are divided about how Apple should handle LTE voice and IMS support.

"I don't know what their position is on IMS, nor does much of the industry," says Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown. "But interoperability is, and will remain, a foundation of mobile communications."

"There's a view they could try and do an end-run around the telecom industry and create their own communications services eco-system by developing Facetime and iMessage," he adds. "No doubt there's some merit to that view, but ultimately everyone benefits from cross-platform communications services."

According to Dean Bubley, founder of consulting firm Disruptive Analysis Ltd. , IMS just doesn't seem to fit with Apple.

"IMS to me is pretty much dead against how Apple views how communications should be," says Bubley. "I don't think that they'll hand the keys to the communication kingdom back to the operator community when they have been such poor custodians of the customer experience. Operators have been asleep at the wheel."

He suggests that Apple might instead develop a communication system that is compatible with IMS but not support full IMS and by doing so it would meet mobile operator requirements while at the same time maintain control over its own communications.

"I think they would put something in iCloud that acts as a transcoder or border function," he says. "I would consider some kind of cloud-based solution ... it would be IMS-ish."

Another point, adds Bubley, is that not all of Apple's products are SIM-based cellular devices and that has implications for how it will support voice in a consistent way across all its devices.

"Whatever Apple does, it will want [voice] to work on its cellular and non-cellular devices," he says. "Any voice platform will need a non-SIM mode … [like] an over-the-top extension of IMS. Apple won't want a completely different voice experience on the iPhone and a Wi-Fi only iPad."

For more

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:38:34 PM
re: How Will Apple Support LTE Voice Services?

How Will Apple Support LTE Voice Services?


A SIP client (App) along GSMA OneVoice - specifications will provide VoLTE support



Note: There is already an app called 'OneVoice' for iPAD, but for a different purpose ...


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:38:31 PM
re: How Will Apple Support LTE Voice Services?

The writing has been on the wall for awhile now.  Apple wants to be a quasi-MVNO.  Why else would they want to have a software based SIM that can be reprogrammed to change the carrier the device can be used on?  Apple could easily just do their own thing; they have already ignored the video call standard.  Apple could easily do their own thing for voice as well.  The downsides will be that Apple will either need to pay for someone to allow interoperability via a gateway or do it themselves.  Apple would then be in charge of the billing and the mobile carriers just become a transport service.  While the mobile carriers would be selling their network services cheaper than say contract customer rates, there is another advantage.  Apple would be providing the tech support, handling complaints and Apple would have to deal with the hogs.  If someone wanted to use 300GB of data a month, the mobile carrier is being compensated and Apple is forking the money over.  If Apple continues to make iOS more chatty, Apple is paying the price for it.  If Apple tries to cut the mobile carrier out of it, then don’t expect the devices to be available from them and subsidies could be out the window.  Apple gets what it wants, but at what cost to the consumer and to themselves?  The carriers decide what they sell and they have rejected iOS updates in the past, so it is not like Apple has full control.


In the end, Apple either has to adopt industry standards or else they need to provide a gateway.  How many people will be fine with only being able to call other iOS users?  Need 911, sorry, out of luck.  Apple would also need to fully support the law which includes E911 and LEO requirements.  Not out of the question for them, but does add to the expense and complexity.

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