Russia makes Beeline for VoLTE services
The rollout of voice over LTE (VoLTE) continues unabated around the globe, with Russian network operator Beeline the latest to join the fray. Beeline, which is owned by VimpelCom, has become the first in the country to move to an all-IP communications solution and offer commercial VoLTE services. Beeline worked closely with the country’s regulators to complete a three-month trial before being allowed to launch the service. Russia’s other operators including MegaFon and MTS are also expected to receive clearance to launch services in the near future. Beeline will now offer VoLTE initially to selected subscribers in Moscow, with plans to roll out to other regions in the future. VoLTE will give customers faster connection times, HD quality voice calls and high-speed 4G data use.
At the GSMA, we have been working with Russia’s operators to provide all necessary guidelines on deployment to help them in the move to an all-IP communications solution and are encouraged with the progress to date. We believe it is vital for operators to adopt an all-IP solution if they are to retain strong customer relationships and have a network capable of meeting the ever-growing customer demand for data services and richer communications.
VoLTE offers operators many potential cost and operational benefits; it eliminates the need to have voice and data on separate networks and can unlock new revenue potential through deployment in parallel with video calls over LTE and enhanced communications services such as Enriched Calling. As demand for video calls grows, deploying VoLTE will ensure that services are fully interoperable and interconnected across the operator community. We view VoLTE as the first step in offering a comprehensive suite of IP comms services such as HD Voice, VoLTE, ViLTE, VoWiFI and RCS that is enhanced by interoperability and the interconnection of all networks.
Native Device Support
Alcatel’s OneTouch Idol Smartphone will also become the first VoLTE-compatible device available in Russia with plans afoot to bring other VoLTE-compatible devices to market in the near future. A strong base of native devices is already available in the global market today, with over 72 models of smartphones supporting VoLTE and 75 supporting RCS. The native integration of IP communications in smartphones is incredibly important. The proportion of VoLTE-capable handsets in overall shipments at the end of 2014 was estimated at nine per cent, but it is expected to rise to between 65 and 85 per cent by 2020, depending on the degree to which the cost of VoLTE chipsets fall.
GSMA Network 2020 Programme
The GSMA’s Network 2020 programme is designed to help mobile network operators make the transition to an all-IP world and deliver global interconnected all-IP communications services to consumers such as voice over LTE, video over LTE (ViLTE), voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) and Rich Communications Services (RCS). Operators are in a unique position to offer secure, ubiquitous all-IP solutions with reach, reliability and richness and the transition will allow them to deliver an enhanced customer experience. The programme is already helping operators from around the world to migrate from circuit-switched technology to an all-IP infrastructure whilst enabling them to maintain service continuity.
To find out more about the GSMA’s Network 2020 programme, go to www.gsma.com/network2020.