LTE Voice Alive and Well
Notes from the LTE Voice and Advanced Communication Services Conference in Amsterdam this week.
Winners and Losers
If you’re a mobile operator with comprehensive LTE coverage, VoLTE mostly implemented and 5G next on your list, then you’re sitting on a gold mine. The worst that can happen is that you end up selling data-only packages to millions of subscribers.
The decline in voice and SMS revenue is being felt more keenly at the edge of the network causing a slight whiff of panic amongst the attending wholesalers and aggregators, with whispers of “bit pipe” and “market consolidation“ being heard at the event, more than once.
The big players have started with NFV at the application layer, with the Telephony Application Server (TAS) and its peripheries. The technical and organisational lessons learnt here are being mulled over before any attempt is made to tackle the session control layer. Blunt statements aimed at vendors reminding them to sell solutions and not just technology for technology’s sake.
VoLTE is a platform, and as explained in the presentation from Hot Telecom those operators who have successfully rolled it out are now beginning to develop and trial new innovative services.
Multi-device is also gaining a lot of attention, and following SK Telecoms engaging presentation showing us the future, it left us to think about how we’ll all be communicating seamlessly from our mobile, laptop, TV, tablet, and Amazon Echo etc.
T-Mobile US showcased their ‘Digits’ service that allows subscribers to have one or more virtual numbers, creating multiple profiles from a single device. Imagine millennials with:
• Personal profile
• Business profile
• Running Club profile
• Dating profile
• Gamers profile
They have seen a direct increase in subscribers, and equally as important, a reduction in churn.
Test and Measurement
The integration of IMS with legacy & IPX makes signalling and more importantly voice quality something that actively needs to be measured. The (at times) tortuous media path traversing a 3G, 4G & VoIP network means you shouldn’t take voice quality for granted or your subscribers will become a churn stat. Interesting to see the breadth of experience at the show for this vertical.
RCS and BOTS
It seems RCS is firmly in eco system. As VoLTE diallers with integrated messaging, video and media are increasingly being used to offer VoLTE capabilities on non VoLTE devices to dramatically increase subscriber take up – see Reliance Jio story.
Bots are increasingly being deployed to facilitate customer services, with encouraging figures illustrating a reduction in churn where they’re deployed. Ironically the pundits are predicting the bots will really take off when they’re voice enabled.
In conclusion the telecoms industry is in a fundamental state of flux, the disruptors (OTT’s) are wreaking havoc with traditional voice and messaging revenue. Sun-Tzu said “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” which felt refreshingly on the surface at this week’s conference.
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