Suddenly, everyone seems to be getting serious about VoLTE; for what is considered to be a nascent technology, it does seem to be quickly gathering speed. At CES 2014, AT&T (News - Alert) kindled the VoLTE flame when it announced that it would introduce devices that can support HD voice and LTE-Advanced in 2014 –a clear indication that it means business. A report from Strategy Analytics (News - Alert) notes that this augurs well for the VoLTE market in 2014. But will VoLTE be a threat to OTT services?
Let’s first see why VoLTE promises to be much more than what it is today before finding out whether it will be a rival to OTT (over the top) technology.
The report notes that the U.S. will be a key market for VoLTE in 2014, and major players will give the necessary thrust to the market, which is expected to positively impact South Korea and Japan and other European markets.
Verizon already has the largest 4G LTE footprint as it offers it in over 500 markets. Sprint (News - Alert) is working its way toward building an all-IP messaging portal with the end goal as a VoLTE service that includes voice and data on a single platform. Sprint Nextel was the first to introduce the wideband audio tech in the U.S. in 2013, while T-Mobile (News - Alert) is pushing its HD Voice services.
According to Phil Kendall, director, wireless operator strategies and author of the report, Verizon Wireless and Sprint are expected to join AT&T‘s efforts in offering VoLTE-based HD Voice in 2014. It’s easy to see why the United States is likely to give a welcome boost to the fledgling VoLTE market in 2014.
Now, taking a look at the OTT market dominated by Skype, which offers HD voice and video free, we find that other applications like Viber and WeChat appear to be gaining strength. With the roll out of LTE (News - Alert), OTT voice providers can improve their VoIP services using smartphones and also deliver voice better. Operators also can cash in on the LTE rollouts and hold their own against OTT services.
But if mobile operators are to really counter OTT, they would, according to Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director, wireless operators and Networks, need to make VoLTE integrate and interoperate with other rich services to remain relevant in the long term.
With mobile operators, OTT services and an emerging VoLTE in the horizon, it remains to be seen ‘who will be where’ at the end of 2014.