There are many reasons why global operators are excited about voice-over-LTE (VoLTE). It's simpler to work with, and it uses the same network to deliver voice and Internet access. It also enables operators to offer additional features that they hope will end up looking like HD voice and a rich communication suite that gives them a voice value proposition that differentiates them from their competitors and adds muscle to the framework of the voice networks they've been hustling for years.
Then there are the operators that are looking at their 3G networks for voice and their 4G networks for Internet access operations, creating a necessary division that (hopefully) will make both operate much better than they have in combination with one another. This, too, is another of VoLTE's many possibilities.
But operators aren't leaving behind their 3G or 4G networks to switch to VoLTE en masse. Not only does 3G still work, operators are still hoping to make money off those networks. Operators haven't even completed their 4G buildouts yet, so they're looking at VoLTE more as a way to segregate voice from data users in hopes of improving both the networks and the users' experiences.
But for any of this to happen, mobile operators must work closely with their testing partners to ensure that the VoLTE networks they're building are capable of helping -- and not hurting -- their mobile network plans.
This is some of the information that's discussed in the most recent Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, "VoLTE Test & Measurement: Who's Doing What." This report examines the market for testing VoLTE solutions, analyzing the most lucrative drivers in the market, as well as challenges in the industry. It includes a comparative analysis of solutions available, examines the geographic landscape of the market and details trends that likely will occur in the industry over the next 18-24 months.
Quantifying the quality benefit is where VoLTE testing will play an important role with deep analysis of things like performance management, jitter buffer management, lost packet and erroneous packet handling, call setup latency, and call completion rates. The VoLTE application competes with other applications for bearer paths and bandwidth, so it's important that each facet of the network be tested to ensure that it's playing well with others and not creating bandwidth bottlenecks.
Additionally, in many regards, VoLTE poses a significant challenge, driving operators to supplement the testing performed by vendors. Operators are moving away from relying solely on equipment vendors to perform network validation. Most operator networks are now multi-vendor sourced. Every network is unique, and operators want to test their specific configuration, services, and traffic mixes. Operators must know the scalability and bottlenecks of their specific network designs and call profiles.
As VoLTE networks move closer to integrating completely into operators' final network strategies, it will be equally important to perform end-to-end testing to ensure good quality on LTE networks when they are fully deployed.
— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider
The report, VoLTE Test & Measurement: Who's Doing What, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Mobile Networks Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/mobile-networks.