At the LTE Voice Summit in London this week operators and solution providers alike were putting their heads together, trying to work together to understand how to monetise and deploy VoLTE. While everyone came at the problem from their own perspective there were a few themes that stood out for me.
HD Voice is essential to combating the OTT threat
To win back share from dreaded OTT players, the view is making the rounds that operators need to differentiate on – wait for it – voice. While the jury is still out on the extent to which a service as commoditised as voice can serve as a differentiator, I get the impression that HD Voice is something else. Latency requirements and bandwidth needs are still to be worked out, but once you’ve tried it there’s no going back – much like under floor heating, I think, though I’m still waiting to try it for myself.
Interworking will be the bottleneck in the pace of rollout
There was plenty of discussion about the completely new set of interconnects and signalling interfaces to enable LTE Voice users to access each other across network and geographical boundaries. But more importantly, the need to think about the way to evolve and offer services to a data hungry customer. What will LTE Voice mean for international calling costs? Roaming? How will the industry offer Quality of Service before Voice over LTE is ubiquitous? Which of the world’s roaming hubs will evolve to become a leader in VoLTE?
Ah, the eternal question. How can networks, and their policy and billing systems cope with the data deluge that LTE Voice will unleash? How can operators move past the byte counting mentality (I love that phrase) and develop to offer differentiated packages based on quality of use, not number of packets? What value added services can be offered and how? Will RCS live up to its potential? What can be done to offer premium video and telepresence packages?
Time to act is now
LTE Voice is coming! With rollouts in 2014 there is no doubt that the deployment and monetisation of LTE Voice will be a topic in many meeting rooms in Barcelona, come Mobile World Congress. It’s an exciting time, that’s for sure.