Today’s mobile devices and networks have become so sophisticated that we sometimes forget their most fundamental feature: calling.

February 28, 2024

5 Min Read

Today’s mobile devices and networks have become so sophisticated that we sometimes forget their most fundamental feature: calling. 

Voice calls – both audio and video – remain the foundation of telecom operators’ service offerings. So operators should be prioritizing calling innovation just like the rest of their 5G (and beyond) capabilities – and yet the calling experience hasn’t really evolved much during the past two decades or so.

“ZTE understands that critical requirement, which is why it has been investing – along with four major Chinese operators and other strategic partners – in 5G New Calling,” says Wang Quan, VP of ZTE Corporation, Deputy GM of Computing and Core Network.

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Based on the 3GPP R16 specification, 5G New Calling utilizes the high bandwidth and low latency capabilities of 5G and introduces a new IMS Data Channel (IMS DC) on top of VoLTE/VoNR audio and video channels. 

Any multimedia data can be synchronously transmitted through IMS DC, which means traditional real-time calls become real-time interactive and immersive calls. Put another way: 5G New Calling gives basic voice calling a much-needed upgrade. It’s core benefits include:

  • It’s native and embedded in the mobile phone – no app download necessary.

  • It offers fully HD audio and video experiences, with VoLTE and VoNR support, of the sort that bring the traditional call into the modern digital age.

  • It’s highly interactive, thanks to the new IMS DC layered on top of the existing audio and video channel, enabling comprehensive multimedia (text, image, audio, video, H5, XR, etc.) exchange callers and call recipients.

  • It’s intelligent, with built-in AI capabilities that make intelligent calling a reality and enable value-added services for consumers – such as “funny calling” with AR, ASR, and Simultaneous Interpretation – and for a wide range of industries, delivering services such as AI-powered intelligent customer care.

Indeed, 5G New Calling will allow operators to offer individual users – both consumers and business professionals alike – a wealth of new potential interactive services in their calling experience, such as background replacement, virtual avatars, digital human, screen sharing, and other features. Voice transcription capabilities can assist hearing-impaired callers eliminate communication barriers, for example, while intelligent translation services can enable international business calls and conferences.

For industrial and/or commercial clients, 5G New Calling promises new service innovations in the age of IoT, edge computing architectures, and a massively growing number of new connected devices and users. 5G New Calling can integrate with industrial applications to reach users accurately, improve service efficiency, and meet remote and digital service development requirements, for example. Potential applications include intelligent customer service, remote troubleshooting and/or guidance, augmented reality tagging, among many others.

It’s far more than mere potential, however: ZTE and key operators and partners are already putting 5G New Calling to the test. For example, ZTE have demonstrated the intelligent banking customer services through 5G New Calling, integrating innovative services such as enterprise business card, visual menu, screen sharing, remote guidance, electronic whiteboard, and content sharing, with banking business processes. At MWC 2024, ZTE released "5G New Calling White Paper". This white paper stressed that 5G New Calling offers a new opportunity for telcom voice service and showcased the practice experience in both video channel (VC) and data channel (DC) application.

“This replaced and upgraded the bank’s traditional voice call customer service system with a new interactive, intelligent experience,” Wang Quan says.

ZTE and other stakeholders see enormous potential for other 5G New Calling applications in the banking and insurance sectors, according to Wang Quan, such as the ability to offer AI-driven product recommendations in an interactive, immersive calling experience.

ZTE and China Taiping, China's first transnational financial and insurance corporation, streamlined the company’s claim reporting and settlement processes with 5G New Calling. Previously, claims processing required employees to collect and manually enter data on-site, or required customers to separately complete forms in a mobile app after the initial service call. Now, 5G New Calling allows for everything to be completed in real-time during a single call, dramatically improving operational efficiency and customer experience.

5G New Calling Architecture: 3 Pillars

ZTE is the only vendor in the industry that can provide an end-to-end new calling solution, including DC terminal, IMS core, new calling platform, service platform, and applications. That ties to the three main components of 5G New Calling architecture, each of which ZTE has helped pioneer – along with four major Chinese operators and other partners – through rigorous research, development, and testing.

  1. New terminal: 5G New Calling requires a terminal that supports DC functionality, enabling multimedia information exchange through DC channels. At the same time, it is necessary to support downloading and using applets from the network side.

  2. New network: 5G New Calling requires an IMS upgrade to support DC functionality. ZTE also evolved the media platform and added sophisticated AI capabilities to enhance the basic channels and media capabilities for new call services.

  3. New business: By deploying a new call platform, ZTE and operators can deliver new call services such as fun calling, voice transcription, voice translation, and digital human to mobile users. It is also delivering open API for third-party application platforms such as call centers, ringtone platforms, and multi-party video platforms, opening new opportunities for businesses across virtually every industry.

5G New Calling: Where It Stands Today – And What’s Coming In The Future

5G New Calling presents a considerable new opportunity for telecom operators to innovate not only basic calling, but also offer a wide range of new features and services to their customers that layer on top of calling or integrate with other applications.

5G New Calling is already available in China, and ZTE says leading operators in other markets are actively studying the technology and optimistic about future adoption as the ecosystem matures in areas like the 3GPP R18 specification and increased DC terminal production.

To that end, ZTE is embracing a leadership role in cultivating increased participation and collaboration throughout the industry to develop a blueprint for 5G New Calling implementation – and a thriving ecosystem that embraces call innovation for mobile operators and users alike.

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