The call of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) is getting stronger in the Asia-Pacific region as China Mobile becomes the latest operator to offer commercial service with the help of ZTE in Guangzhou. (See China Mobile Does VoLTE With ZTE.)
Fellow ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) customer Hong Kong CSL Ltd. flipped the switch on VoLTE capabilities in its network in Hong Kong last month, becoming the first operator to activate the capability outside of South Korea. China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) will be now the second, announcing Thursday that it has begun deploying VoLTE on its LTE TDD network with partner ZTE, starting in Guangzhou, but with plans to go nationwide in 2014. (See VoLTE Hits Hong Kong.)
ZTE is championing Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) for handoff with 2G and 3G networks, and the carrier says it works seamlessly with no customer intervention and little latency. China Mobile is using ZTE's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) platform and 4G smartphones with Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s Snapdragon 800 processor on board in the deployment.
After successfully completing VoLTE calls in China Mobile's labs back in July, ZTE proved LTE TDD VoLTE calls worked between Guangzhou and Tianjin in actual urban environments last month. (See ZTE, Marvell Break New VoLTE Ground.)
This month, carrier executives took to the road to test the strength of ZTE's eSRVCC by doing video calls in Guangzhou. Other vendors' systems and terminals were also used in the deployment, which ZTE claims demonstrates the feasibility of eSRVCC for all networks of China Mobile.
Guangzhou will still serve as something of a test bed as China Mobile sees how the initial deployment goes. But the carrier says it's on track for nationwide VoLTE before the end of the year, offering China Mobile a more efficient way to use its network and a better customer experience.
South Korea's top operator SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) has been deploying commercial VoLTE service since 2012, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless in the US are both angling for deployment this year. (See South Korea Hears First 4G Voice Service, AT&T Hears Call of VoLTE in 2014, and Verizon Promises Voice-Over-LTE in 2014.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading