At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon CTO Tony Melone re-iterated the carrier’s planned commercial introduction of Voice over IP over LTE (VoLTE) before the end of 2012. He also stated that 4 LTE-compatible smartphones will be available no later than this June. These are dual-mode devices, using traditional 2G cellular services for voice.
Why is VoLTE such a big deal? Here are just a few reasons:
- Since the technology is all IP-based , this will make it much easier to for customers to use a wide variety of mobile and mobilized UC applications that also include voice, including those embedded in communications-enabled business processes (CEPB) like click to call embedded in a CRM application.
- VoLTE calls can interface to carrier-certified SIP stacks and applications, just as SIP Trunk services do today. This will make it less cumbersome for both SIP-based mobile and fixed handsets to use the same application –either network-based (like hosted IP audioconferencing) or premises-based. I expect the arrival of VoLTE will facilitate the introduction of many more mobile and mobilized UCaaS applications than are currently available. With VoLTE, FMC may finally come into its own.
- The same methods to monitor and maintain session and application performance can be used across all applications. Of course, these methods themselves continue to, ahem, “mature”. They haven’t “arrived” yet, not by a long shot.
- On the mobile carrier side, use of the same technology to support all mobile applications is a necessary precursor to ultimately retiring 2G (cellular voice) service. We have seen this before—with the complete retirement of analog cellular technology just a few years ago. This process will take some time, but when it does, it will allow the carrier to re-deploy all of its licensed spectrum in a much more efficient manner, supporting several more magnitudes of simultaneous sessions than it can today.
- It will provide the basis for mobile device vendors, applications developers and carriers to work together to create the necessary methods to offer better end-end security, and as alluded to above, meaningful end-end SLAs. Finally, it will become harder and harder for all mobile suppliers to dodge these legitimate enterprise requirements.
- It will set the stage to unleash great innovation—on applications, devices, and ancillary services. This includes collaboration and UC. And if mobile carriers do their work very well, it can also create a necessary cornerstone of potentially huge wave(s) of (multi-media) cloud-based services. When VoLTE becomes real, we’ll have the opportunity, finally, to see how much an IMS architecture that supports both fixed and mobile SIP stacks can deliver on all of its promises. Many of us who are friends of UC Strategies can hardly wait.