VoLTE deployment delays–can the curse be lifted?
There is no way around Voice over LTE (VoLTE). It is the future of voice communications via wireless networks. A recent study on how VoLTE compares to its contender, namely OTT VoIP services (that’s over-the-top Voice over IP for the layman), against the backdrop of 4 main key performance indicators (KPIs) clearly demonstrate where we’re heading.
Here’s a rundown of the results of this comparative analysis led by Nokia’s Smart Labs around the 4 KPIs:
- Smartphone battery use: VoLTE draws approximately 40% less power on smartphones compared to OTT VoIP.
- Data connections: OTT VoIP clients generated up to 10x more data connections in the mobile network than a VoLTE client during a call.
- Data volume/throughput: To reach a comparable quality level, OTT VoIP applications required 20-40% more throughput than VoLTE during active calls.
- Signaling load: Compared to VoLTE, default OTT VoIP keep-alive patterns activated during standby typically created between 100% and 200% higher signaling load on LTE networks.
The conclusion is clear: Firstly, VoLTE is more network friendly than OTT VoIP. Secondly, VoLTE allows for more power efficiency for the same benchmark level of quality of experience (QoE). Furthermore, in highly loaded networks, voice quality is likely to break down for VoIP services while VoLTE will ensure quality of service (QoS). This means that VoLTE gives mobile operators the upper hand when competing against the OTT players.
So why are carriers delaying their VoLTE rollouts?
Unlike traditional circuit-switched network-based voice services, VoLTE requires a new network architecture with seamless interworking between 4G and IMS. It’s a whole new game for carriers, with some hard lessons still being learnt in the field. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
To quote Johan Wibergh, Ericsson's executive vice president and head of its networks business unit, in a recent article: “It's often underestimated what it takes to go from traditional circuit-switch voice to VoLTE. You don't just change that overnight. When you do that, you want to make sure it's really ready.
Being really ready before deployment, that’s the secret. Faults found post-deployment are not just more expensive to identify and fix, but can also lead to unwanted negative press and subscriber churn. Hidden costs can often outweigh direct costs of addressing problems in a live network.
Is it possible to avoid post-deployment service quality impairments and network breakdowns?
The answer is yes – with today’s advancements in lab testing, operators have the power to detect and avoid issues before they ever happen. VoLTE is very complex. Traditional lab tests that underestimate this complexity will only add to the trouble. What’s needed is the ability to simulate, in a lab environment, real-world traffic with millions of subscribers while precisely replicating the diversity of live networks. Simulator test solutions that can handle VoLTE’s complexity exist, so there’s no reason for further delay.
Watch this interesting clip that wraps up how to validate VoLTE under actual conditions. Choose your VoLTE testing wisely!
 Why operator VoLTE beats OTT VoIP. (https://blog.networks.nokia.com/mobile-networks/2014/04/03/why-operator-volte-beats-ott-voip)
 Ericsson exec: VoLTE deployment delays not surprising due to network complications (http://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/story/ericsson-exec-volte-deployment-delays-not-surprising-due-network-complicati/2014-04-23)