A new report from Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com) says the number of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) subscribers will rise from 488 million in 2016 to 3 billion in 2021, as operators reap the benefits from widespread 4G infrastructure roll-outs.
There are now 165 operators in 73 countries investing in VoLTE, including 102 operators that have commercially launched an HD voice service using VoLTE in 54 countries. Juniper found that the number of users adopting VoLTE services will overtake subscribers of OTT (Over-the-Top) voice app services, popularized by applications such as Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat, for the first time by 2021. Consequently, the mobile data traffic attributable to VoLTE will rise significantly over the next 4 years, representing a seven-fold rise from 2,000 Petabytes in 2016, notes the research group.
Juniper says that operators will introduce widespread national and international VoLTE roaming, as VoLTE usage rises to over 10 trillion minutes by 2021, equivalent to around 3.3 trillion music tracks. It argues that it is imperative that traditionally slow-moving operators enter partnerships with platform vendors in order to accelerate service launches.
Juniper predicts that operators will be eager to enter partnerships to maintain their quality of service, rather than downgrade calls to circuit-switched telephony, while roaming. Platform providers, such as Syniverse and Tata Communications, will play a critical role in the future of VoLTE roaming launches, providing operators with the necessary infrastructure and immediate potential partner base to maximize their global reach, according to the research group.
As such, operators who fail to undergo a shift in attitudes to VoLTE risk losing ground to competitors, and increasing user churn. “Operators have historically used service coverage as a differentiation point; selling the notion of ‘always available’,” says research author Sam Barker. “The depth and breadth of high-quality voice services will now serve to enrich that offering and entice users: ‘always available, always best-in-class’.”