Next Generation Communications Blog


By: Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

Today’s consumers want faster mobile broadband, and lots of it. That’s the dominant fact shaping Mobile Service Providers’ competitive strategies. So let’s look at what you can offer these valuable subscribers with voice over LTE (VoLTE).

Great voice + faster broadband, all at the same time

Most consumers now use a mix of communications, including traditional mobile voice, texting and vibrant new apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, Hangouts and dozens more. But before VoLTE, they either got LTE’s faster broadband. Or they got a reliable voice call. They couldn’t get both at the same time. Now, VoLTE integrates mobile broadband with telephony. So now consumers can enjoy both faster broadband and great sounding HD voice.  And their service provider can create vibrant new apps.   


Proven high performance

Today, with large-scale VoLTE deployments underway in the U.S., including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile), the “secret” value of this technology is becoming more widely recognized. In fact, Signals Research recently compared the performance of VoLTE, 3G UMTS and Skype in AT&T’s Minneapolis/St Paul network, for everyday conditions. And their study found that VoLTE’s performance really stands out!


It was the only service or technology to provide both faster broadband and great voice calls.  (Mobile Skype’s voice quality, on the other hand, suffered in real-world conditions, and Circuit Switched Fallback’s [CSFB’s] 3G UMTS blocked LTE’s high-speed data.)  That makes VoLTE essential for helping consumers extend their LTE broadband user experience to voice. So they can talk clearly while browsing, streaming, playing, sharing or finding information.  A variety of VoLTE handsets are on the market, including the iPhone6, with more coming.  And service providers such as AT&T are preparing to interconnect their VoLTE networks. 

Signals Research also found that VoLTE improves audio quality, sets up calls faster, reduces battery drain and improves coverage.  I’ve found these points to be true in my own VoLTE experience. And as a result, I end up using mobile voice more often. 

Clear video (finally)

VoLTE also enables a crucial breakthrough. For the first time, consumers can enjoy clear mobile video communications.  (This capability is sorely missing in the U.S., following the curtailment of MetroPCS’ video service). Alternate providers’ real-time video apps suffer from bandwidth congestion that cause delays or interrupt the call, such that app providers’ video is used predominantly where there is uncongested WiFi.  Now, mobile video calls are clear, because similar performance optimizations as VoLTE’s are applied to video. 

Video calls are also simpler to use. That’s because VoLTE’s and video’s presence technology enables the phone to display an icon that indicates when a video call is available — during their current voice call or for buddies listed in their phone’s address book. 

And easier messaging too 

Many consumers opt to use popular messaging apps that offer an experience that’s simpler and more interesting than texting.  VoLTE smartphones can enable enhanced messaging. For example, VoLTE’s technology and the phone can offer group chat, as well as indications that a message was delivered — or that your buddy is busy typing a reply.  In addition, it can allow consumers to share content such as images, files, locations, or other digital items.  So, instead of sending yet another email, your subscribers can “message” it inside or outside of a call.

So what’s next?

As Sue White wrote about the current marketplace and consumer preferences, “…we first need to accept what has changed:

  • The days of charging for basic voice and text messages are gone
  • We own several devices (and not all from Apple) and want to consume comms on all of them
  • We don’t care what kind of network we are on (LTE, Wi-Fi, 3G, fixed or any other). We want to access comms across any of them.
  • We are social beings and like to be with groups and share.
  • We love to talk and message, and the younger ones love video comms, too.”


In other words, voice and texting have their place. And VoLTE improves their market appeal while reducing costs  and streamlining your networks.  But the bigger point is that VoLTE can help you overhaul consumer communications to address bigger market changes.  This starts with data-centric pricing and moves to a new model where no single service dominates mobile service providers’ revenues. 

Chetan Sharma calls this the “4th Wave . (Hint: Read this account of the challenge and opportunity for mobile service providers).  In recent VoLTE workshops, I’ve seen our customers’ keen interest in the crucial role VoLTE can play.  It enables them to move from an untenable position that’s focused on voice and messaging and shift to a data-centric approach.  Then it opens their way to engage in the 4th Wave, as the digital lifestyle provider.  This is how I see communications playing into the 3rd and 4th waves:



Here’s what you’ll need

 VoLTE is where communications meets cloud.  Today’s competitive market demands reduced costs for mobile voice.  And that’s why our leading-edge customers are already preparing to implement VoLTE in the cloud. 

Cloud also provides the necessary speed for competitive communications in the 4th Wave, which includes rapidly changing apps, more dynamic traffic patterns and highly varied new use-cases

Think of VoLTE as the first step in this journey.  The destination is a creative and pragmatic overhaul of your communications.  So you can embrace the promise of the first wave of alternative communication apps.  This crucial venture is fully realized when IP communications is implemented in the cloud, with tight integration between the application and access. And when your business is open to the 4th Wave’s new way of thinking. 

I invite you to check out these items:

  1. A video on VoLTE’s opportunity and innovation, where leaders from our Marketing, R&D and Delivery teams share their insights. 
  2. The first two parts of this blog series:  “The Secret Value of VoLTE for Service Providers” and “The Secret Value of VoLTE for Enterprises
  3. Advice from our people who’ve deployed VoLTE, in the ongoing blog series, “We Ask the Experts.”  Part one (introduction), Part two (outperform circuit switched voice), and Part 3 (achieving exceptional QoE)
  4. Information regarding our E2E VoLTE solution


Please check out the TMCnet blog serious on VoLTE:

-          The Secret Value of VoLTE: Part 1 

-          The Secret Value of VoLTE: Part 2 

-          We ask the Experts: Part 1 

-          We ask the Experts: Part 2 

-          We ask the Experts: Part 3 



VoLTE We ask the experts2_graphic1.jpg
VoLTE We ask the experts1_graphic1.jpg

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