Light Reading
While the operators remain quiet on 4G voice, WhatsApp is plowing full steam ahead -- with or without their involvement.

WhatsApp Threatens Carrier VoLTE

Sarah Reedy
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
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: Moderator
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: Moderator
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   >   >>
More Blogs from Light Reedy
The results of Light Reading's fourth annual Salary Survey tell us about the salaries, aspirations and job satisfaction of nearly 1,200 telecom professionals.
New rewards program offers points for online interactions, but requires customers to sign up for Precision Market Insights, Verizon's program to sell customer data to advertisers.
The carrier-led mobile money JV plans to rebrand to distance itself from the violent militia by the same name.
Tax season brought a huge wave of banking phishing scams to Chicago, Cloudmark says, urging operators to do more to protect against it and talk more about it.
Is T-Mobile the master of smile moments? Two industry figures' tips on customer-centricity sound a lot like the Magenta carrier's recent 'uncarrier' moves.
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
Salary Survey Report 2014
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed