VoLTE was introduced in 2010 by the GSM Association (GSMA), and has been standardized by the 3GPP. In establishing the VoLTE initiative, GSMA has adopted the work of the One Voice Initiative as the basis of the work to lead the global mobile industry toward a standard way of delivering voice and messaging services for Long-Term Evolution (LTE). Without VoLTE, carriers use their LTE network solely for IP data transmission and are forced to use their legacy 2G/3G infrastructure for voice communications. Essentially, VoLTE voice enables LTE and allows concurrent usage of both voice and data on the same network.
Not only does VoLTE offer unique advantages in lowering a carrier’s voice infrastructure economics, but it also promises to improve voice quality and user experience. Major wireless carrier U.S. Cellular (News - Alert) has started testing VoLTE technology, disclosing its efforts in a filing with the FCC.
"U.S. Cellular is currently testing VoLTE and expects to move forward with VoLTE deployments at some point in the future," the carrier wrote in the filing.
The carrier’s spokesman, Steve Carlson, revealed that the company has begun the trials with multiple vendors in the fourth quarter and will continue until next year, without revealing any further details about a launch date.
MetroPCS has already deployed VoLTE, becoming the first service provider to do so, and it’s working to add VoLTE to 14 more markets in next four to six months. MetroPCS has aligned itself with GSMA joyn, allowing it to bring out a variety of services like contacts presence, contact availability, status sync, chat, messaging and even content sharing all over the MetroPCS LTE network.
Getting access to the service requires customers to subscribe to an LTE plan and get a handset that works with RCS/joyn. Then, users will download the joyn app from either Google (News - Alert) Play or the @metro App Store. MetroPCS expects that the service will “bring about substantial changes for customers,” as expressed by MetroPCS' vice president of product management, Solyman Ashrafi.
Although carriers and users are excited about the new technology, a recent study by Metrico Wireless (News - Alert) has revealed that VoLTE significantly reduces smartphone battery life. In the study, Metrico Wireless compared the battery life of devices making calls on CDMA network with those making calls over LTE networks. The tests revealed that VoLTE calls reduced battery life by 50 percent compared to phones making calls through the CDMA network.
London-based research firm ARCchart expects that revenue from VoLTE services will reach $2 billion by 2016. According to the report’s lead analyst, Asad Khan, “Demand for VoLTE is being fuelled by carriers wanting to establish a native mobile VoIP solution, both for the long term economic benefits and to defend against the threat posed by OTT (Over the Top) VoIP providers such as Skype (News - Alert), FaceTime and Viber.”
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli