As much as we like to talk about broadband access and Internet connections on the go, there is still a high demand for quality voice connections. Businesses and consumers alike rely on quality connections and expect the same level of experience regardless of the device used. Therefore, there is a growing demand for 4G to support RCS VoLTE connections.
Competition in this space heated up this summer with O2 and Vodafone launched their 800 MHz LTE (News - Alert) services. This added competition to the LTE landscape, challenging EE domination. Carriers are setting out to inform consumers about the benefits associated with 4G, focusing primarily on the speed of download and the extensive content available for subscribers.
Coverage won’t be a primary focus for either carrier, according to a post in Telecoms. This is one of the key areas that have traditionally been a battleground when rolling out new solutions. The shift has much to do with the extensive coverage available now that new frequencies are available. It’s not as much of a competitive advantage as it becomes standard across the industry.
Drawbacks to the marketplace for 4G network rollouts do exist. For instance, early LTE phones are enabled for faster 4G data services only. With access to 800MHz LTE, improved coverage is enabled right away for data services indoors. However, most users already experience improved coverage and good data service from their fixed broadband provider, leaving little added benefit to grab onto here. So instead, these devices fall back to 2G and 3G mobile networks when out and about, degrading any potential for improved service.
If there is little benefit perceived or experienced in this scenario, it’s difficult for carriers to sell the subscriber base on an upgrade or higher network access pricing. And it appears that incoming calls aren’t performing any better. If the call is received, the network alerts the phone over the LTE network before dropping the LTE connection. The phone then looks to lock onto the 2G or 3G signal. If there isn’t one available, the subscriber may miss the call, even though full bars are available.
AT&T (News - Alert) is tackling this challenge with the build out of more towers and the addition of small cells. The demand for smartphones and other mobile devices, according to AT&T’s senior executive vice president of AT&T technology and network operations John Donovan (News - Alert), is requiring networks to get denser. This is helping to deliver a better experience, yet spots in the network still exist, something that must be addressed one at a time.
This situation for AT&T is not unlike the challenges that exist for all carriers as they try and accommodate demand related to RCS VoLTE. The key for those who want to continue to dominate will be a focused effort on development and delivering the experience customers have come to expect with great voice quality.
Edited by Blaise McNamee