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Increased 4G LTE Coverage Leading to Several Mobile Improvements

  By Joe Rizzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

According to a study from GSMA (News - Alert) Intelligence, in just a few years, we will see the existence of about 465 LTE networks up and running in 128 countries. That is because we are in the midst of a 4G LTE (News - Alert) deployment explosion. Indeed, this growth will represent a doubling of the amount of 4G LTE networks in service worldwide.

4G technology is meant to provide what is known as “ultra-broadband” access for mobile devices. What makes 4G technology different from 3G is that it is based on all Internet protocol (IP) packet switching instead of circuit-switched technology. This allows for different spectrums to be used which greatly increases data speeds.

A recent survey conducted by Mobidia (News - Alert), a leading mobile analytics provider, shows that the deployment of LTE networks has had a very positive effect on more than 100 mobile operators. The impact that the deployment had can be seen in the fact that LTE subscribers are using more data, as well as buying larger data plans.

We have seen that every corner of the world is investing in the development and deployment of 4G LTE networks. Last year, the European Union (EU) spent a lot of money to improve and deploy LTE coverage across Europe. China has also begun its deployment of LTE networks.

So, you can see that this is not something that is localized in any particular region. Because of this increased 4G LTE coverage, the quality of wireless network data has also increased. According to a new study from J.D. Power, the growth of 4G service coverage has led to a decline in the amount of incidences of wireless network problems with data quality.

As I mentioned, due to the improved quality, LTE subscribers have increased their data plans because they are now, as one might expect, using more data. This generally comes in the form of video. There are actually two factors in play here: First is the improvement of data quality and second is the improvement in the mobile devices themselves.

Devices in the wireless market have greatly evolved in the past two years in regards to video capabilities, such as screen and camera resolution, rendering abilities, computing power and user interface. These developments, coupled with the deployment of advanced wireless networks, have led to an increased adoption of video services on wireless devices.

This has also led to growth in another area. According to a new study from iGR, improvements in LTE networks will lead to a growth in Voice over LTE (VoLTE). It seems that several major U.S. mobile operators are poised to make VoLTE commercially available on a wide basis by the third quarter, 2014.

VoLTE is something that mobile operators are now taking a serious look at. That is because this is the type of technology that would enable mobile operators to eventually terminate their legacy, circuit-switched voice 2G/3G network infrastructure. In turn, this would give them the ability to consolidate voice traffic on the LTE network platform.

In a very simplistic view, VoLTE, is similar to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which Internet voice applications such as Skype (News - Alert) and Vonage use to support voice calls over a broadband connection. VoLTE allows voice to become just another native app that rides on a data network. This is designed to bring faster, better voice calls, as well as video communications to your cell phone.

From an enterprise perspective, VoLTE would give employees the ability to easily conduct video conference calls on their mobile devices. In addition, VoLTE will replace the narrowband codecs on circuit-switched voice calls with HD audio codecs, meaning that the audio quality will be noticeably better.

It is also possible that VoLTE will support the ability to have audio-based voicemail services with the addition of video, transcriptions and message portability, allowing customers to forward, organize and archive their messages. There are potential benefits to both the consumer and enterprise that have yet to be realized.

One potential problem is that these new services will have to be managed and kept secure. That is where companies such as RADCOM are developing products designed with monitoring capabilities for VoLTE. Coming from a background of IT management, I know how important it is to have the right tools. There is plenty of opportunity here for creative companies.

All of this is made possible because the quality of wireless network data has improved so much in such a short period of time. As 4G LTE network deployments expand and quality continues to improve, new capacities such as VoLTE will see more and more adoption.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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