Trends and Analysis: Global Interconnections Gain Momentum


By Henry Calvert, Head of Network 2020 programme, GSMA. Henry Calvert crop 74x79

Since our last update we’ve seen a number of significant developments in the adoption of all-IP communications services by the global operator community such as Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), Voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) as well as the Universal Profile for Advanced Messaging. Our in-house analyst team keeps track on the status of all of these services with data supplied directly by the operators so we are able to provide an accurate picture of how the market is shaping up. All of this information is updated regularly on our All-IP statistics page. This blog tracks trends from September to December 2016.

A notable development has been the huge rise in the number of LTE networks deployments which has shot up from 507 in 170 countries to 560 operators in 187 countries, meaning that high speed networks are now available to approximately 60% of the world’s population. These networks are fundamental to the delivery of the advanced ‘IP’ based communications experiences operators are rolling out to their subscribers such as pre-calling, group chat, live video and real-time photo or file sharing.

The deployment of VoLTE services and access to enhanced and more reliable calling experiences with features such as HD Voice and fast call set-up times has also grown dramatically since our last update moving from 82 successful commercial launches in 46 countries to 102 launches in 55 countries. It is also now available natively on an incredible 842 devices. Telefónica launched the service in Argentina and Columbia via its Movistar brand with other notable launches by Vodafone and KPN in the Netherlands and Orange and Deutsche Telekom (DT) in Poland. Thai operators AIS and DTAC also announced a VoLTE interconnection in October 2016. VoWiFi is also experiencing growth with 50 operators in 31 countries launching services with notable launches in Singapore in September by SingTel and M1, MTS and Tele2 in Russia in November and in Poland by Play (October) and T-Mobile (November).

RCS launches are continuing with Rogers in Canada and Reliance Jio in India as well as an interconnection in Slovakia between DT and Orange in December. The success of the GSMA’s Universal Profile for Advanced messaging (UP) is continuing with a groundswell of momentum. The common and open profile was created to provide users with an enhanced messaging experience on their devices that is consistent and globally interoperable with features such as group chat, photo sharing and pre-call messaging. Sprint in the US and Rogers in Canada have already launched the service, which is underpinned by an Android client provided by Google, to subscribers and many more are preparing to follow. The UP has the backing of 59 organisations including 47 operators, 10 device manufacturers and 2 mobile OS providers. A second release of the UP will be available later in the year and will include Messaging as a Platform, APIs, plug-in integration, improved authentication and app security.

All of these developments highlight the increased focus operators from around the world are placing on the roll-out and delivery of IP-based services to their subscribers. It really is an all-IP world and we are excited that the work we are doing with our operator partners at the GSMA is having a demonstrable market impact and delivering compelling consumer experiences as we enter the era of 5G. To get involved in what we are doing please go here to find out more.