Fierce Market Competition To Drive VoLTE Uptake
Juniper found that the number of VoLTE connections is anticipated to grow from an estimated 123 million this year to 2 billion by 2020, with a marked improvement in voice quality enabled by VoLTE likely to spur its increased take-up.
Increased availability of compatible handsets is set to drive adoption of the technology, while direct revenues from VoLTE will be limited at first, according to the study.
Juniper argues that network operators “will initially focus on experience and quality of service, rather than monetisation, with failure to deliver a high-quality offering at the outset potentially resulting in churn to rival operators”.
In the local market, Telstra in September announced that its VoLTE rollout for postpaid customers had commenced, with the rollout to be staggered, gradually enabling full-HD capability for different types of calls, such as 4G-to-4G, 4G-to-fixed and 4G-to-3G.
Vodafone last month advised that it would commence its VoLTE rollout from December, with Vodafone chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen stating Vodafone expects “the number of customers with VoLTE-capable devices to increase rapidly over the next few years”, with more smartphone manufacturers incorporating the feature into new models.
Juniper notes that operators are also investing in Wi-Fi calling (VoWi-Fi), which is aimed at tackling the internal coverage issue, with operators launching the service to add value for customers with little investment, while VoLTE is focused on operator network efficiency.
Meanwhile, to remain competitive, the research also claims that operators will need to ensure that their offerings match those of leading OTT (over-the-top) providers.
By way of example, Juniper cites Facebook Messenger, which recently launched free HD VoIP call services over cellular and Wi-Fi networks, arguing that an operator HD voice service proposition would be a critical element.
Juniper notes that HD voice adoption has been steadily rising since 2009, with over 130 operators worldwide offering mobile HD voice, forecasting that the number of capable devices will grow to over 1.3 billion by 2020, driven by manufacturer adoption and operator capability.
Juniper additionally found that the Far East and China will account for over 50 per cent of global VoLTE connections by 2020, while VoLTE services will account for over US$100 billion in annual service revenue by 2020.