While 5G enables myriad possibilities beyond voice, this core element of telecoms will always be essential to any operator’s offering. With 5G being deployed across the world, Huawei’s Vincent Zhao was interviewed to discuss the vendor’s Single Voice Core solution, which helps modern and legacy voice standards to coexist.
What are the advantages that the Single Voice Core can introduce?
Due to the development of cloud-based and 5G SA, we believe that the carriers are investing more and more in voice services. Our forecast is that investment growth will be around 3-5% in the next few years. During this period, multiple voice networks – traditional and cloud-based, 2/3/4/5G will all coexist. During this process, while the carriers are evolving towards the target network, they will make VoLTE the basic network for voice services while at the same time moving CS to the cloud. This is why Huawei has unveiled its Single Voice Core solution based on the GSMA’s NG122 standard, which achieves the integration of multiple voice networks including CS and IMS. Based on this standard and this solution, CS services can be incorporated into IMS. At the same time, carriers will also be able to reuse the roaming protocols of CS to address the roaming issues. That is the basic concept of the SVC solution.
Given that SVC can be used across many coexisting standards, does the solution offer benefits in emerging markets which often rely on technology such as 2G, which is considered outdated in more developed markets?
First of all, we have done analysis for emerging markets. For the time being, work has started to roll out and migrate VoLTE networks and to move the core networks for voice services onto the cloud, so we believe the time is ripe for SVC to be deployed in emerging markets. Of course, one unified cloud-based SVC will be more efficient and deliver better user experience compared with five different voice networks. In the past, if we wanted to achieve interoperability, with CS networks and VoLTE networks both existing, it required a huge consumption of transcoding resources and poor user experience. Based on our actual tests, compared with the old model with two networks coexisting, the SVC solution brings an increase of 0.2 - 0.3 in the MOS value of user experience. With the SVC solution, carriers now only have to deploy new services at one goal; in the past, they needed to roll out and provision their services respectively on CS and IMS. Based on the single network, the solution helps cut carrier OPEX by 20% -30%. That’s the value we see that can be brought to making carriers more competitive.
In terms of the technology available, have there been any issues with migrating core networks to the cloud in emerging markets?
When it comes to rolling out networks on the cloud, the first challenge is the prerequisite to have cloud-based infrastructure. Another challenge that we’ve identified in the evolution of voice networks and VoLTE networks is the coverage of LTE and spectrum. However, these two difficulties are being overcome. Especially in emerging markets, out of the core network products that Huawei ships, more than 70% - 80% are based on cloud infrastructure.
Legacy architecture can be weak or even nonexistent in these markets, but can this provide an advantage by enabling quicker migration to cloud products?
This is right. Most of the CS networks were built between 2005 and 2010 – already 10 to 15 years ago. These outdated pieces of equipment contain risks when they are in operation in the existing networks, including risks relating to hardware, software, vulnerabilities, and software life cycle. That’s why cloud migration is the most efficient approach for emerging markets.
It can be challenging in emerging markets to deploy VoLTE as a fundamental network to support 5G deployment due to the lack of available infrastructure. Will the cloud-based solutions being deployed now enable this widespread VoLTE deployment?
I believe that 5G has in fact accelerated the development of VoLTE – carriers already started rolling out VoLTE in the 4G era, but it was optional at this time. In the 5G era, VoLTE is mandatory – 5G users and particularly SA users will not be able to make calls without VoLTE, because there isn’t a fallback to 2G or 3G. However, while 5G sped up the development of VoLTE, it’s difficult to say whether VoLTE will do the same for 5G.
VoLTE was also being deployed by carriers in emerging markets during the 4G era, and this takes a long time. Therefore, a good strategy is to deploy VoLTE during this era and accelerate user migration when 5G arrives.
Where has the Single Voice Core been deployed thus far?
The Single Voice Core was launched in 2020, and we have signed about ten commercial deals for the solution across emerging and developed markets. Three of them are already in the commercial deployment stage, and we have secured customers. The biggest advantage of this solution is that full cloud migration has been achieved. Some of the projects are already VONR-ready for 5G voice services, and some carriers are exploring new services under the SVC solution, including video ring tones and 5G business voice.
Where will the benefits of the solution be felt over the next few years?
The solution will be marketed globally, and we will pursue more service innovations based on Single Voice Core. For example…
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This content is sponsored by Huawei.