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Are VoLTE and Voice over WiFi revolutionizing mobile voice?

This blog is by Mika Uusitalo, CTO Nokia Networks, Europe & Latin America.Twitter: @uusitalo_mika

From east to west, mobile broadband operators have been piloting and launching Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services. While advanced LTE markets like Korea and North America have grabbed the headlines with commercial VoLTE launches, other operators have taken a less visible, but just as progressive approach to preparing for the new dawn of IP-based mobile communication.

The momentum behind VoLTE is building rapidly in Europe and Latin America. Several key operator trials are ongoing. At least three major multi-country operators with a combined reach of more than 200 million subscribers are piloting VoLTE - all of them with Nokia technology.

One trend highlighted by these trials is operator interest in deploying VoLTE on a NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) environment. For example, MTS made Russia’s first live VoLTE voice and video call on a telco cloud infrastructure using Nokia’s technology and expertise. Supported by our portfolio and a cloud management system that controls the VoLTE applications, we’ve been able to further demonstrate the readiness of this technology for end-to-end VoLTE.

In addition to running VoLTE pilot projects and live network trials on telco cloud, many operators are also implementing important capabilities, such as IMS centralized services, enhanced SRVCC, HD-voice, video sharing, messaging, emergency call handling and operator-specific services. We also see a lot of interest among our customers to experiment with Web based real-time communication services (WebRTC).

Nokia has rolled out a simple and flexible VoLTE solution package to boost operator trials and make the service as easy as possible to deploy also in a cloud environment. Many commercial VoLTE deployments in Europe and Latin America are expected during 2015, particularly as SRVCC support becomes more widely available in smartphones.

iPhone 6 will be packing VoWiFi

In parallel, a lot of interest has been created by the news that Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) support will be embedded in the new Apple’s iPhone 6 (iOS 8). At Nokia, we cooperate closely with leading device vendors to develop new VoWiFi technologies and ensure compatibility with our network elements, thus enabling operators to provide seamless, good quality VoWiFi services to their subscribers. In fact a few operators have already started to offer VoWiFi services.

This will mean extreme convenience for subscribers when handsets that support these technologies become commonplace. A device that supports 2G/3G/VoLTE/VoWiFi natively allows subscribers to just press the green button to make a call over the best access according to their settings, subscription or other needs.

Travelers take note: when abroad, you’ll be able to call home using the hotel’s WiFi at local rates - no roaming fees will apply. And for the subscriber at home , home WiFi access will do the trick for voice calls.

VoLTE and VoWiFi are clearly knocking on the door. Together they promise potentially the most significant advances in voice communication since the mobile phone was born.

Click here to find out more about Nokia VoLTE, core virtualization and telco cloud.

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