Last week, I graded myself on the predictions I made for 2013. This week, I’ll make my predictions for the coming year. I wouldn’t go walking into a casino after you read this, though.
“Voice” has been having a hard time the past few years. It’s kind of like a sports team that has been historically dominant but has fallen on hard times because of mismanagement, player injuries and bad coaching. Voice revenue is declining. Data and OTT apps grab all the attention and market capitalization, so who cares about voice anymore? However, people still want and need to talk with each other. And so, in 2014, I predict we’ll start to see much more messaging and “cool apps” with voice inclusion. In this kind of messaging, we’ll see voice as a key differentiator. How retro is that?
There are many technical reasons why voice can make a bit of a comeback. One of them will be WebRTC. And in 2014, I expect we’ll see the first medium-scale WebRTC deployments centered on voice.
Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) messaging will be a piece of the voice comeback, and will garner even more attention because carriers will want to start adding VoLTE networks. It just won’t really roll out in 2014 in a major way. VoLTE-capable phones are one reason – just because the phone supports HD Voice doesn’t mean it is VoLTE capable. I expect 2014 to be a big-time prep year for VoLTE with larger-scale deployments happening in 2015.
Speaking of LTE, one of the next frontiers, maybe even more important than VoLTE, is LTE roaming. Roaming on LTE isn’t happening now for various reasons, one of which is the phonesets need to be capable of supporting different LTE frequencies used in different countries. But there are also Diameter variants that need to be interworked, as well as interworking between Diameter and 3G/SS7 before roaming can occur between LTE and 3G networks, and there will need to be agreements and IPX hubs that enable the business side. As such, in 2014 we’ll see LTE/Diameter interworking take more of a center stage.
Finally, it’s always hard to know the theme for Mobile World Congress. Sometimes you walk into that show, and the messaging from so many companies is so overwhelming that it’s like a hammer hitting you in the head. While network function virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN) really picked up steam in 2013, I’m expecting NFV and SDN to be key themes at the show. Voice, as discussed above, could be THE key theme in 2014, but I think we’ll see a lot of booth messaging about NFV/SDN, and we’ll see a lot of execs talking about it in keynotes, as well. It will be a can’t-miss message; even if you are not really paying attention and simply show up to MWC to staff your booth, you’ll absorb this theme without even trying.
I’m looking forward to 2014. How can you not?