Light Reading

WhatsApp Threatens Carrier VoLTE

Sarah Thomas
4/18/2014
100%
0%

As WhatsApp continues to make more noise following its acquisition by Facebook, operators remain relatively silent on their voice-over LTE (VoLTE) deployment plans. Will voice over-the-top of LTE (VOTLTE, anyone?) be the real story of the year?

Since Facebook announced its acquisition of WhatsApp in February, the OTT chat provider has said it will begin offering voice services to its customers, and it has inked a deal with E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG in Germany whereby the carrier is offering its customers unlimited access to WhatsApp's chat services outside of their data plans. (See Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp for $16B.)

WhatsApp has a huge user base -- more than 465 million monthly active users at last count. When it does introduce voice, that's 465 million voice customers that can call, not just each other, but anyone in the world, whether they are customers or not. E-Plus didn't say whether it would include voice in its plans, but my guess is it saw the writing on the wall when it formed its partnership.

"I think [voice] is huge and that is what is going to get the WhatsApp membership sky-high," industry analyst Sunil Tagare wrote in an email to Light Reading. "I am not sure WhatsApp is contemplating the latter yet but I think they should because that's where their massive growth is going to come from. Basically it means that every person in the world with a smartphone will be forced to become a WhatsApp member. They won't have a choice."

It's an exciting prospect, or scary if you're an operator. It also makes it a bit harder to get excited about VoLTE, that 4G voice technology you've heard a lot about but never actually heard. Sure, the GSM Association (GSMA) expects around 20 VoLTE launches this year, but -- especially in the US -- it seems the operators have steered the conversation away from 4G voice as they focus on other network enhancements. (See VoLTE: So Close You Can Hear It.)

Nokia Networks recently put out some (self-serving) research that suggests VoLTE is superior to VoIP in battery consumption (consuming 40% less) and quality levels, as well as having up to 94% lower mouth-to-ear delay compared to OTT VoIP.

The vendor's conclusion was that mobile operators have a powerful tool with VoLTE to compete with the OTT players, but I think you could also takeaway that it's in their best interest to make VoLTE a success lest they become overtaken by inefficient OTT options.

That movement is already happening, too. WhatsApp has shown it can be a great partner to an operator, but it should also serve as a warning. When it begins offering voice services, the voice game will change again. The question is whether or not the operators will be playing.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(37)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
wanlord
50%
50%
wanlord,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/25/2014 | 1:41:37 PM
Re: Threat ??
@Seven, it's not just about revenue, it's also about reducing costs in the network to maintain two networks (3G CDMA and 4G LTE). The cost to maintain that equipment, the systems, the processes, the real estate, the power, people, etc. Not that it will happen soon, but it will happen. Revenue is part of it, but not all. 
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/23/2014 | 12:15:48 PM
Re: Threat ??
Wanlord,

Without a revenue driver, there is no driver.  You have to spend money to convert to VoLTE and without additional revenue then who is going to pay for all this new equipment.  Remember the cost of the legacy gear = 0.

seven

 
wanlord
100%
0%
wanlord,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/23/2014 | 11:36:40 AM
Threat ??
@Sarah, do you think it really proposes a threat to operators? Migrating to VoLTE is likely less a marketing driver and more a network driver (reduce legacy infrastructure, consolidate voice onto existing 4G networks, etc). Just because the user uses WhatsApp, or Facetime, or any other VOIP app, they are still using the data network where the revenue is shifting too. I think the big issue will be lack of QoS using those external apps, while VoLTE will have it. 

Also, I think the kind of users that use chat apps are not the kind of users that are calling to talk anyway, so it doesn't take away from the users that are going to use voice no matter what. 
Gabriel Brown
100%
0%
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/23/2014 | 5:42:53 AM
Re: NSN's view
I've argued consistently that VoLTE is needed by mobile operators with LTE networks. It's been slow going, but I still hold that view. Although note, that's not the same thing as VoLTE being needed for rich communications.

It would be a mistake (unthinkable?) for operators abdicate from communication services over LTE. The risk is that they could be usurped by new entrants that capture the value from new applications. A passive stance will mean they abdicate by default.

All that said, it's not easy: LTE coverage, device capability, and frankly, the business case for investment in a declining revenue stream (classic voice), combine to make VoLTE a challenge. Moreover, VoLTE itself is access-specific, when clearly the communications market is now multi-modal and, to an extent, access and device agnostic.
futurephil
50%
50%
futurephil,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/22/2014 | 6:57:33 PM
Re: NSN's view
There are a lot of things that Tropo, TeleStax, HarQen, MindMeld, Calltrunk, Seemail and many, many others are building that consumers and business will find useful (and pay for).

Keep an eye on the Hypervoice Consortium and what's going on at TADHack for more examples of companies building apps that use voice communications in interesting new ways.

Supporting all this application work are efforts like the Project Clearwater Ecosystem (which launched today -- quietly), so that's where and how I'm hearing about a lot of these things. 

 
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/22/2014 | 6:43:25 PM
Re: NSN's view
Hey Phil!

What is meant by "richer communications"?  I already have all the services that we have listed here and no VoLTE.

 

seven

 
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
4/22/2014 | 6:16:35 PM
Re: NSN's view
It's the urgency I was objecting to. 3G voice will be around for awhile. But, yes, if they want to respond to OTT and build richer comms, which I think they should, then VoLTE is the name of the game. Even if they don't, it still is so they can refarm their 3G networks. That is just a much longer term end game.
futurephil
50%
50%
futurephil,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/22/2014 | 5:47:41 PM
Re: NSN's view
I think Heavy Reading has been pretty consistent about saying that VoLTE is needed if the end game is "richer communications."

Are they wrong?
ZHANGZHANG123@gmail.com
50%
50%
ZHANGZHANG123@gmail.com,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/22/2014 | 7:21:30 AM
Re: Another Giant OTT APP WeChat has Voice service already
I feel WeChat = Facebook + Skype, that is why I love it and use it as my primary Smart Phone APP. I believe it will change the world!
ZHANGZHANG123@gmail.com
50%
50%
ZHANGZHANG123@gmail.com,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/22/2014 | 7:17:45 AM
Re: Another Giant OTT APP WeChat has Voice service already
WeChat has full voice service, not only the reall time voice talking, but also voice messaging, multi-party voice chat, video conference etc.

check out this article from IndiaTimes please

http://www.indiatimes.com/technology/mobile/10-reasons-why-wechat-is-better-than-whatsapp-58313.html

 

 

 
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
One third of nearly 500 voters in Light Reading's recent poll on 5G suggest that upgrading backhaul to support the influx of data traffic coming to 5G will be the toughest challenge.
Light Reading outlines 13 groups that are working to influence the development of 5G, including its standards, spectrum and use cases.
5G won't be a wholesale network changeover, which is a good thing, because 4G does a pretty good job already.
In a new Prime Reading feature on Light Reading, Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown dishes on all things 5G.
It's 5G month at Light Reading, which means we're exploring everything from what 5G entails, what it means for the industry, its challenges, opportunities and progress across the globe.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/22/2015
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
Google Ready to Release Thousands of Loons
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 4/20/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment