Learnings from early VoLTE deployments

If you missed the first webinar in our Transform Your Network webinar series, “Monetizing VoLTE and RCS: How to Grow Revenue Beyond Flat-rate Data Plans,” be sure to check out the archived version available on our website. We teamed up with Mavenir and discussed our experience in the delivery of the world’s first VoLTE deployment at MetroPCS. It was an opportunity to share the deployment details and lessons learned, and what VoLTE means for the future of LTE networks.

During the webinar, we explained the trends in LTE service rollouts and how the exponential growth of mobile data traffic is driving major investments in LTE networks around the globe. We believe a second wave of LTE investment is underway, focused on investing in deploying IMS architectures to deliver VoLTE and personalized video services.

Operators need to understand how to grow their revenues beyond flat-rate data plans. It’s the savvy operators that are planning IMS investments to offer voice, RCS and personalized video calling, adverts and conferencing services in order to maximize ARPU.

My early thinking was that LTE operators rolling out IMS would charge additional fees for VoLTE and RCS services, in an a-la-carte fashion. However, during the webinar, Ian Maclean of Mavenir made the point that OTT operators are already offering mobile VoIP and RCS-like services – often for free. Hence, a more common LTE operator strategy involves bundling of VoLTE and RCS with the data plans. Operators can differentiate these services from OTT offerings as operators can often deploy VoLTE and RCS with higher reliability and QoS, while maintaining roaming plus backward compatibility with 3G networks. So where does increased revenues and monetization occur then? The webinar pointed out that LTE operators with IMS and bundled service offers will grow revenues by growing their subscriber base, taking LTE mobile business away from short-sighted LTE operators offering data only.

In early VoLTE markets such as in Korea, we’re hearing about similar operator strategies of bundling VoLTE and RCS with the data plans. We’ve also seen evidence that VoLTE services based on HD audio quality (using AMR-WB codecs) can command premium per minute prices (also increasing operator revenues), as people can hear and appreciate the improved voice quality compared to typical 3G mobile voice services.

During the webinar, we also analyzed the options available for operators to deliver Voice and Video in an LTE network and we explained why VoLTE, based on an IMS architecture, is the preferred approach to maximize technical and business benefits.

It was great to work with Mavenir for this webinar, and I encourage you to download the archive available here. And be sure to tune in for the next webinar in the series on Small Cells and LTE-Advanced deployment techniques.

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