VoLTE continues to invite attention, as RCom closes on finalizing its network provider.
2017 will be the year of VoLTE in India. With Bharti Airtel and Vodafone having awarded their IP multimedia system solutions deployment contract and RJIo its pan-India VoLTE deployment contract to Nokia, there is excitement on who will be selected as the network provider for RCom. The major vendors in the running besides Nokia are Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE. Idea Cellular too has yet to award the contract for its IP multimedia system solutions.
There are currently 500 commercial LTE networks in the world, and every single network will eventually support VoLTE, as it is inevitable that voice will go to LTE. Out of the 500 LTE networks, 63 VoLTE commercial networks are up and running. In each of these, existing subscribers become de facto VoLTE users when they upgrade their devices to LTE-capable ones. For the majority of those VoLTE networks, the service is marketed as a device feature rather than something to which a user subscribes.
By 2020, worldwide VoLTE service revenue is projected to reach USD 6.3 billion, with almost half coming from North America, where average revenue per user (ARPU) is the highest in the world. At that time, Asia-Pacific will have three times more VoLTE users than North America but revenue will be 13 percent lower. As VoLTE continues to surge worldwide, the need for roaming becomes greater, giving rise to VoLTE roaming as the next big thing to come - and fueling the debate over local breakout (LBO) versus S8 home routing (S8HR).
At the end of 2015, there were more than 100 million VoLTE subscriptions. The uptake is expected to accelerate in the coming years, with 2.3 billion subscriptions projected by 2021 - equal to more than 50 percent of all LTE subscriptions globally. In the US, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, uptake is projected to be even faster, with around 80 percent of LTE subscriptions using VoLTE by 2021. Measurements indicate that there are already networks where around 70 percent of all LTE voice calls are provisioned using VoLTE, instead of utilizing 2G/3G circuit switched voice. Many barriers to VoLTE adoption, such as adapting charging and IT systems, having adequate LTE coverage and interoperability between vendors' implementations, are now being resolved. In addition, the penetration of VoLTE-capable smartphones is increasing rapidly. In April 2016, there were more than 340 VoLTE-enabled smartphone models, supporting different regions and frequencies. The VoLTE platform enables services such as HD voice, video communication and IP messaging, as well as new service innovations. Operators that deploy the technology are able to offer high-quality IP-based communication services across LTE, Wi-Fi, and fixed access technologies, as well as 5G when it becomes available.
The decline in the revenue of voice calls and SMS necessitated the adoption of a standardized and viable scheme for provision of the same. As the mobile network operators continue with the full-fledged implementation of 4G LTE network, the development of VoLTE (voice-over-LTE) is providing a platform of choice for voice call delivery by network operators. The scheme of VoLTE was devised due to the need for a standardized system for traffic transfer over LTE. The 4G LTE network is the mainstream foundation for the emergence of VoLTE. 4G LTE is around 20 times faster than any 3G broadband technology.
The technologies of world VoLTE market include voice-over-IP multimedia subsystem (VoIMS), circuit switched fall back (CFSB), dual radio/simultaneous voice and LTE (SVLTE), VoLTE via generic access network (VOLGA), and single radio voice call continuity (SRVCC). VoIMS is the transmission of voice data over an architectural framework that delivers IP multimedia services. Likewise, CSFB is a technology used for delivering SMS and voice services to LTE devices through GSM or other circuit-switched networks. SVLTE is a technical standard and protocol to enable the usage of both data and voice networks simultaneously on the device using LTE data network and CDMA voice network. VOLGA is a technological approach to deliver SMS and voice services across LTE networks, whereas SRVCC is a standard required in VoLTE systems to allow packet domain calls over LTE to seamlessly transmit through legacy circuit switched voice such as in GSM, CDMA 1x, and UMTS.
The VoLTE market is emerging with trends such as VoLTE and VoWi-Fi integration. The growing popularity of VoLTE services of video conferencing and file sharing has increased the rate of adoption of VoLTE in enterprises. The data and voice capacity of VoLTE is six times more than 2G GSM and up to three times more than 3G UMTS. Moreover, the bandwidth utilization rate in VoLTE is less owing to the smaller packet headers. The telecommunication sector currently demands for efficient voice call services with faster call setup time and improved spectral efficiency. The deployment of VoLTE services suffices these demands of the sector efficiently. The success of the industry largely depends on innovated service offerings and cost efficiency in services.
The value chain of the VoLTE market includes various stakeholders such as vertical application developers, network operators, service brokers/aggregators, and end users (businesses and individuals). These stakeholders perform various roles in specific areas and gradually add more value to the services. Advancements in the technologies and services offered would create a competitive edge owing to the initiatives of each stakeholder in the value chain.
Segment Overview. The world VoLTE market is segmented on the basis of technology into VoIMS, CSFB, SVLTE, VOLGA, and SRVCC. The VoIMS technology contributes the highest revenue in the VoLTE market globally. However, VOLGA is anticipated to exhibit the fastest growth during the forecast period. VoLGA supports femtocells and offers faster call setup times as compared to CSFB. In addition, it supports existing circuit services along with IMS RCS and others that provide a roadmap toward the new revenue-generating services to mobile operators.
Top Factors Impacting VoLTE Market
Improved spectral efficiency. As compared to the conventional circuit switched voice, VoLTE renders improved spectral efficiency, the rate of transmitted information over a prescribed bandwidth in a given system, which is augmenting the deployment of VoLTE services globally. VoLTE enhances the spectral efficiency of the transmitted voice in 4G LTE networks. Spectral efficiency is optimized in VoLTE through advances such as reducing the consumed bandwidth, reducing the usage control channels, and boosting the uplink coverage. Thus, the impact of improved spectral efficiency is prominent at present and is expected to grow at a minimal rate by 2022.
Faster call setup time. The time required for VoLTE call setup is about twice the call setup time for existing 3G CFSB (circuit switched fallback). Moreover, the call quality of VoLTE voice service exceeds both Skype's HD voice service and 3G circuit switched voice. In addition, in P3 Communication's VoLTE Benchmarking Results, the VoLTE call setup reduced the time by 2 to 4 seconds on the carrier networks. Therefore, the impact of faster call setup time is significant and is expected to witness a greater impact by 2022.
Growing demand for mobile UC. There is an increasing demand from mobile enterprises for mobile and cloud UC (unified communications) solutions owing to their faster network speeds. The mobile network operators must fulfill this demand by delivering UC applications through LTE and offering the end users a better user experience by investing in the enhancements of LTE network. Considering the end users' demand for unified communications, enterprises opt for mobile operators to deliver enhanced network capabilities. Hence, the impact of growing demand for mobile UC is significant and is expected to grow at a reasonable rate by 2022.