Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a digital packet voice service which is delivered over internet protocol (IP) via LTE network access. The technology also empowers the network operators for providing rich video and voice calling services. It allows the operators to optimize their spectrum efficiency and utilize their IMS infrastructure thereby adding value to their existing plans. It allows the telecom operators to offer new standards based on various services such as Rich Communication Services (RCS). It includes voicemail, video, instant messaging, real time language translation and video calling. The RCS reduces the timing interval to connect VoLTE calls and improve the device’s battery life over other applications.
Increasing demand for richer and more reliable voice services is expected to drive the VoLTE market. Increased spectrum efficiency is expected to support the industry demand from 2017 to 2025. The declining revenue of SMS and traditional voice calling owing to cheaper internet packs and new upcoming technologies have driven the demand for the VoLTE services in recent years. Increased deployment of LTE networks and high speed package access (HSPA) has attracted varied telecom operators to enter into this industry.
The necessity of receiver and transmitter (communication devices) supporting VoLTE technology, high pricing structure and limited 4G coverage is expected to restrain the industry growth over the forecast timeline. As voice calling, internet surfing and video streaming will be considered under same data plan, the customers will eventually consume more data ending up paying high for the data charges.
However, increasing competition amongst telecom operators to acquire 4G space, growing adoption of VoLTE supported devices and stabilized prices is expected to influence the market dynamics over the forecast timeframe. For instance, in June 2017, Sprint announced an unlimited data plan for a year in the U.S. for the customers who switch from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Earlier this year, the major U.S. cellphone carriers have launched unlimited data plans of which Sprint has launched this plan as a strategy to target maximum subscribers on their network.
Indian telecom operator Reliance has launched free introductory Jio 4G net services for 6 months in India as a strategy to acquire the maximum market share. This introductory offer has benefited Reliance Jio to acquire the maximum market share in its launching phases of Indian telecom industry. Moreover, the company is also offering its LYF smart mobiles for about US$ 46 by integrating the business vertically thereby forcing other operators to slash their existing data prices. As an effect, Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone are planning to roll out VoLTE services in the country by the end of September 2017.
Key industry participants are AT&T Inc, Verizon Wireless, Mitel Networks Corporation, Ericsson, LG Uplus, and Alcatel-Lucent. Mergers and acquisitions are the key competitive strategies adopted by the industry players. For instance, in February 2016, Mitel Corporation has deployed voice and video over LTE in Indonesia through Smartfren telecom operator. Indonesia is the fifth country where Mitel has introduced its VoLTE services after North America and Europe by collaborating with telecom operators T-Mobile in US and 3UK in Europe.
In March 2015, Nokia Networks has implemented first VoLTE implementation in Colombia and Latin America. In Colombia, Avantel has selected Nokia for deploying VoLTE services thereby starting the small cell LTE networks in the country.
AT&T is also focusing towards expanding VoLTE roaming coverage in the Asia Pacific region. For instance, in February 2017, it has launched its VoLTE services in Hong Kong and South Korea. The company has provided these services with collaboration with telecom operators SK Telecom in South Korea and SmarTone and CSL in Hong Kong. It has also launched VoLTE services by collaborating with NTT Docomo in Japan and is focusing towards collaborating with additional service providers.
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