& cplSiteName &

VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It

Sarah Thomas
2/24/2014
50%
50%

BARCELONA, Spain -- Mobile World Congress. Despite many false starts, the GSMA is expecting no less than 20 voice-over LTE (VoLTE) deployments this year.

The next ones are being announced this week at the GSM Association (GSMA) 's own show in Barcelona. For one, Asian operator SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. said Monday it will launch VoLTE in Singapore "in the coming months" in partnership with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC). The deployment will use Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) to kick users back to 3G where LTE is not available, and will be supported by a number of compatible Samsung Corp. phones, including the next Galaxy S, the Galaxy S4, and the Note 3 via a software upgrade.

China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) is also expected to announce an expansion of its initial launch with ZTE in Guangzhou this week, and the carrier is showing off virtualized VoLTE with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) at the show. (See China Mobile, ZTE Kick Off VoLTE Rollout , Alcatel-Lucent Lays Out Its NFV Plans, and China Mobile, Alcatel-Lucent to Demo NFV at MWC14 .)

Among the US-based operators, both Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) have been testing VoLTE in the network and handsets, respectively, and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) formed a partnership with BroadSoft Inc. to manage its VoLTE migration, suggesting initial trials at least may not be far behind. (See Verizon VoLTE Testing Spotted, AT&T's VoLTE Phones Start Trickling Out , and Sprint Taps BroadSoft for VoLTE Transition.)

There have been so many fits and starts around VoLTE as operators look to build a superior service to 3G voice, but Paul Gowans, JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) mobility marketing manager, told Light Reading he thinks the delays are finally over. The market is now mature enough in its understanding of the end-to-end nature of what's required, he said.

It's that end-to-end nature that's caused VoLTE to be delayed so long, too. Gowans said there have been two main challenges with VoLTE -- optimizing the radio access network (RAN) and the service quality. Service quality has to be assured from the RF level to the RAN to the device itself. The RAN causes the most issues, he said.

"If you think about it as one chain from end to end, if one piece causes a problem, the whole thing breaks down," Gowans said of the delays. Test and measurement vendors such JDSU have been engaged in finding those issues in the pre-deployment testing, to identify where the whole process typically gets hung up.

Dan Warren, the Senior Director of Technology for GSMA, added two other challenges that are still troubling operators -- the increased signaling load of VoLTE and call-recognition failures in which the phone doesn't recognize the device it's calling and permanently blocks the number. He said operators are tackling these issues now, and the GSMA is doing its part to speed up finding the answers. (See VoLTE Needs Passing Grade From Operator Tests and MW13: Tekelec Warns of VoLTE Signaling Storm.)

The industry association produced a guide, “VoLTE Service Description and Implementation Guideline,” in October to facilitate roaming relationships, as well as a launched an “internal support area where operators can share knowledge and help figure out issues between each other.

VoLTE still won't be a crystal-clear proposition as the launches do occur. As Gowans pointed out, it requires a new handset or firmware update for a lot of devices, and roaming and interoperability issues will take longer for the GSMA to wade through. Until deals are forged, a VoLTE user calling someone on a different network will still fall back to 3G. It will be a while before it lives up to its full potential.

"This year things will start to build up," Gowan said, "but it will be still building up in islands."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/27/2014 | 6:31:05 PM
Re: VoLTE challenges
The adoption of VoLTE will still be limited by the handset adoption, no? It seems like everyone has a smartphone, but I think the stats actually still favor a dumbphone market for now.
melao2
50%
50%
melao2,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/25/2014 | 1:34:58 PM
Re: VoLTE challenges
It is right on the target.

It should make sense financially for the whole "eco-system" to embrace VoLTE.

Why not just expand 3G/2G for Voice? Financially it still makes sense. 
AJAY-M
50%
50%
AJAY-M,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/25/2014 | 12:37:22 PM
VoLTE challenges
There are couple challenges in VoLTE launch. VoLTE with IMS definitely giving advantage of high voice quality but ;ensuring end to end quality of service, maintaining complex IMS system, increased signaling load , availability of affordable VoLTE devices/smart phones ,device management/configuration and roaming are real challenges.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2014 | 10:36:09 AM
Re: Small step for VoLTE
Well, this isn't good news, but Grant Henderson, vice president of marketing and product development for Radisys, which makes media processors for VoLTE, thinks 20 might be too ambitious...he said perhaps more like 15 launches this year. Sheesh.

 

 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2014 | 4:00:28 AM
Small step for VoLTE
The GSA says that 274 operators have launched LTE networks so far, so 20 of them doing VoLTE is only about 7%. Not a great start, but, hey, it's still a start!
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2014 | 3:35:56 AM
Re: Progress
Yeah, and I think they already have, which is why it's taken so long. As Dean Bubley pointed out on Twitter, these are still primarily demos and promises, but I do think it's promising that the T&M guys, who are in the trenches on this, think the delays are over. I bet we'll hear more from the US operators soon.
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
2/24/2014 | 10:11:20 PM
Progress
Sounds like progress, but also like there are still a few things to be ironed out. Is there any reason to believe that Verizon or other carriers could discover issues during their trials that could delay commercial launches?
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Cloudy With a Chance of Automation: Telecom in 2018
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/12/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed