VoLTE will not be an overnight success in India: Ericsson


21 Jun 2013
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Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson has said voice over LTE will not be an “overnight” success in India as a majority of mobile carriers are likely to continue relying on the traditional circuit-switch fallback (CSFB) technology for voice services.

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) allows an operator to offer both voice and data to customers without switching between bands, with voice being just another application that rides on an LTE data network.

In VoLTE voice, the speech is broken into and carried as small packets using a technology known as IMS, while Circuit Switched voice calling requires a dedicated circuit to be setup and reserved for the duration of a voice call.

“Markets that launched VoLTE four years ago still have a voice carrier. VoLTE will not be an overnight miracle phenomenon (in India),”
Nishant Batra, global head of radio, site and indoor at Ericsson, told ET.

“VoLTE is not about substituting voice for voice, rather it is about substituting voice services for the better communications services and then it makes sense for telcos to go start working on it. But if you think VoLTE will become the de-facto voice standard in the country, I can bet it won’t happen in the next three years,” Batra said.

Telecom operators in India have started integrating VoLTE technology with their systems but it is yet to become the mainstay. While Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Jio Infocomm, the new entrant in the country’s telecom business, has built a pan-India VoLTE network and is depending on this technology to deliver voice services, Bharti Airtel, the country’s leading telecom operator, is also planning to offer nationwide VoLTE services to its customers in the coming months.

Airtel, which offers calling on the legacy circuit-switch technology, will use VoLTE as a complimentary service to its existing voice offering.

Both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are using
Nokia ’s IP multimedia system (IMS) solution for VoLTE service in India.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, the country’s second and third-largest carriers, respectively, may also join the VoLTE race soon, having bolstered their 4G spectrum holdings in the recently-concluded auctions.

Vodafone is implementing VoLTE as a pilot project in select areas using Nokia’s IMS solution, while Idea Cellular is in advanced talks with Ericsson and Nokia and is likely to award the deal in the coming days, people aware of the matter said.

According to Batra, telecom companies are either adopting VoLTE for high spectral efficiency, which means more voice users can be provided service with the same amount of spectrum, or for enhanced service offerings such as high definition voice.

“I don’t see a big benefit (for telcos),” Batra said, adding that the ecosystem is not ready for mass uptake either. 2G networks, mainly used as a fall back for voice services, will continue to exist in India, he said.

An analyst who didn’t want to be named said VoLTE will take at least two-three years to reach mass user base in India.

VoLTE as a technology offers various advantages, such as better smartphone battery life, less call setup time, and better voice quality. VoLTE is a better voice engine as compared with circuit switch, and it is going to be a core of these telcos’ networks, according to industry watchers.

The technology, they said, is extremely important for telcos and they need to aggressively look at investing in it to counter the VoIP and OTT threat. However, coverage will be an issue for providing VoLTE service in India initially, they said.

Ericsson: VoLTE will not be an overnight success in India - ET Telecom
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