Light Reading
The GSMA expects 20 VoLTE launches this year as the operators work through their last niggling issues with the 4G voice technology.

VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It

Sarah Reedy
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
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.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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.

 

 
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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!
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive