Voice Over LTE's Future Is Far From Loud and Clear, Report Finds
Voice over LTE disagreements could lead to industry fragmentation similar to that of the previous 3G rollouts, says Unstrung Insider
Oct 27, 2009
Although mobile network operators and technology suppliers are firmly committed to LTE as the cornerstone for 4G networks, major disagreements about the importance of including voice service as part of early LTE deployments could lead to the kind of industry fragmentation that adversely affected 3G rollouts, according to the latest report from Unstrung Insider (www.unstrung.com/insider), a paid research service from TechWeb's Unstrung (www.unstrung.com).
Voice Over LTE: Many Questions, No Easy Answers analyzes the various scenarios envisioned by the mobile communications industry for providing voice over LTE (Long Term Evolution) service. It examines the different options vendors are proposing and the difficult choices facing mobile operators that view voice as essential to the successful launch of their next-generation LTE networks. Finally, the report also profiles 11 companies, exploring their voice over LTE strategies.
For a list of companies analyzed in this report, http://img.lightreading.com/uni/pdf/uni1009_companies.pdf
"Nearly everyone in the mobile phone industry agrees that LTE is the way forward for data, but that consensus does not extend to voice over LTE as yet," notes John Blau, research analyst with Unstrung Insider and author of the report. "Some mobile operators view LTE initially as a data-only play and do not see a powerful case for rushing into voice, while other operators are worried that LTE without voice could be off to a difficult start."
Lack of progress in developing IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) for mobile applications is seen as a big problem for voice over LTE implementations, Blau says. "Over the coming months, operators, vendors, and the 3GPP standards body will face some tough decisions," he adds. "For those operators that believe voice is absolutely essential to have in their LTE service portfolio from the start, interim solutions will be necessary to fill the gap created by the slow progress of IMS. These interim solutions could create the kind of technology fragmentation that occurred in 3G networks."
Key findings of Voice Over LTE: Many Questions, No Easy Answers include: -- The VoLGA Forum, which proposes an interim packetized approach to carrying voice traffic over LTE, has completed the third and final phase of its specification process and will pursue standardization during 2010. -- One major OEM in the VoLGA Forum has no plans to develop, manufacture, and market the interim voice over LTE solution. -- Most equipment vendors shy away from providing exact information about their planned LTE voice products and their availability. -- Over-the-top VoIP players may pose a greater threat to network-based mobile service players than many of them are willing to believe. -- The IMS platform has been slow in coming to the mobile world, and many now fear it has become too complex.
Voice Over LTE: Many Questions, No Easy Answers is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900 (single-user license).
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