4G networks step closer with Voice standard

Long Term Evolution networks are poised to explode in popularity after major wireless carriers have agreed on a new standard.
LTE – often branded “4G”, as the successor to mobile 2G and 3G – has a theoretical capacity of up to 100Mbit/s in the downlink and 50Mbit/s in the uplink.

Most major mobile carriers in the United States and several worldwide carriers have announced plans to convert their networks to LTE.

The world’s first publicly available LTE-service was opened in the two Scandinavian capitals Stockholm and Oslo on the 14 December 2009, and branded 4G.

Mobile 4G moving closer

Data has been seen as the glamorous “new kid on the block” of mobile services, and LTE has until now been regarded as a largely data-centric set of technologies.

Until very recently LTE has not included good voice handling capabilities; yet most operators still earn 70 percent of their revenue from voice and SMS services. That has been a stumbling-block for LTE.

Now, however, a group of operators and OEMs – AT&T, Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Verizon, Vodafone, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson – has agreed on the “One Voice Profile,” a standard that defines a viable solution for voice in LTE.

That, says principal ABI Research analyst Aditya Kau, should encourage more operators to migrate to LTE, with the resulting greater adoption of IMS. “IMS vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent have been waiting a long time for this,” he says.
“They’ve invested huge sums in IMS and haven’t been recouping that investment as they thought they would. Now One Voice, paired with the completion of the Rich Communication Suite, will drive strong IMS market growth. IMS vendors are already reporting a definite increase in RFPs and sales.”

“There is one more hurdle for IMS, however: it is complex and expensive. The effort now will be to simplify and reduce cost.”

Revenue from mobile IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) sales is expected to increase more than 100 percent over the next five years.

Approximately $8.4 billion was spent on IMS during 2009. According to Kaul that figure will rise to $17.3 billion in 2014.

What will spark this strong growth?

“IMS uptake will be closely associated with the deployment of LTE networks worldwide,” says Kaul. “It’s all to do with recent progress in standardizing how voice services will be handled within LTE.”

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