VoLTE and its Implications
VoIP and LTE
For a while now mobile operators have been pushing VoLTE as the future of the wireless industry. MetroPCS was the first carrier to launch its VoLTE network but it has since been shut down after the company was bought by T Mobile. Nonetheless all 4 major carriers are have plans for their own VoLTE network launches in the coming years.
Much of the United States has been covered with blazing fast LTE networks but even LTE enabled smart phones fall back on traditional cellular 3G or 2G networks when it comes to placing calls. VoLTE is the technology that will allow voice calls to be made over 4G networks. It offers better call quality, lower power consumption and allows carriers to integrate add-ons such as conference calls or video chatting more easily. Since voice would simply be another application running on the same data network as other Internet services, it is cheaper and more hassle free for the networks to maintain.
Even as carriers are rushing to launch VoLTE services, the revenue implications of moving voice over to data networks is still unclear. While it will certainly cost carriers less per call to deliver voice services, it may not be enough to justify the huge capital investments required to upgrade their networks. Wireless operators cannot charge extra for VoLTE calls and at the same time, consumers switching over to VoLTE will significantly reduce the usage of monthly airtime bundled into their subscription plans. In the long run, VoLTE appears to be a losing proposition for the carriers.
However shifting voice to data networks is not just about reducing costs. As more consumers get used to VoLTE, their data consumption is only going to increase. Once it gets to the point where all calls and texts are transmitted over Internet connections, operators can simply increase the price of data. VoLTE is also a strategic move against the spread of VoIP services from the likes of magicJack, Vonage and others. VoLTE can contribute to the revenue streams of carriers unlike VoIP which bypasses traditional wireless operators.
Lots of Ground to Cover
Consumer VoLTE services are just one side of the coin. Enterprise class IP services that start with business VoIP will likely prove to be more lucrative for carriers. As more consumers bring their devices to the workplace, companies would rather use VoLTE offerings to integrate with corporate communication networks. It will allow workers to use personal and business services on the same device. So even though VoLTE still has to cross several hurdles, both consumers and carriers are likely to benefit from upgrading their networks.