Follow these road signs to the best 5G voice destination
Satellite Navigation, or SatNav, has transformed driving. Who uses printed maps anymore? Yet road signs provide additional important guidance that a SatNav may not, such as parking restrictions or hazards like icy road surfaces.
In the world of 5G there are also some clear ‘road signs’ to help Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to find the best route to profitable 5G voice services.
Sign 1: Follow the IMS route
The first sign comes from the 3GPP standards, which state that 5G and Wi-Fi voice will both use the same IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture as Voice over LTE (VoLTE). These access technologies are just different ways to deliver the same IMS-based voice services. So, if a CSP already runs a VoLTE service, its IMS core, with just a few small updates, can also be used for 5G voice in the future.
Most CSPs will initially choose the 3GPP Non-Standalone (NSA) deployment option in which 5G access will carry only data, with voice calls being started and run over VoLTE, which should have good network coverage.
Following that most CSPs will implement the Standalone (SA) 5G option in the later stages of their 5G journeys when their 5G core will be in place. Voice call setup will then take place in the IMS connected 5G network. The LTE network will remain essential because 5G coverage will be limited, leaving Evolved Packet System (EPS) fallback to ensure the voice call is established on LTE.
Even when more extensive 5G coverage is achieved and many voice calls run over the New Radio (VoNR), LTE will still be needed to ensure calls can continue uninterrupted should the user move out of 5G coverage. With seamless call continuity and excellent voice quality, users will talk for longer and remain loyal, boosting CSP revenue and cutting churn.
Sign 2: Head towards cloud-native
To take full advantage of cloud computing, applications like IMS need to be built as micro-services and run on containerized, dynamically orchestrated platforms. This cloud-native approach gives CSPs an opportunity to offer voice and innovative data services as a complete, dedicated package.
Such a package could be an end-to-end 5G network slice-based service that creates high performance Service Level Agreement (SLA) based Fixed Wireless Access for an enterprise, offering fast broadband bundled with high quality 5G voice. A cloud-native implementation allows easy spin-up of an IMS network dedicated to voice services over a network slice.
Sign 3: End of innovation speed limit
Taking the cloud native route enhances other opportunities. CSPs can use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to customize and enhance voice services with advanced capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. APIs make it easy to integrate third party elements to create compelling, innovative services. Two examples could be real-time speech recognition and translation to other languages using 5G voice, and voice-controlled Internet of Things (IoT) management.
A programmable cloud native architecture enables these services to be developed in an agile way. CSPs will enjoy a fast time to market that helps to monetize their core investments and service developments as rapidly as possible.
Sign 4: Ecosystem partners working ahead
Novel 5G services depend on the programmable IMS core as a platform for innovation establish a new voice services ecosystem. In this ecosystem the operator’s collaboration with 3rd party developers make 5G voice connect to new insightful services and applications.
A CSP’s journey to the most profitable 5G voice business will not be complete without their participation in this new 5G voice ecosystem. Only then will they be able to reap the rewards of diverse new services that will expand their business into new areas.
Entry for CSP’s to the 5G voice ecosystem club is through a cloud native, modern IMS core with all its open, programmable elements that will best deliver multimedia and voice to today’s and future smartphones.
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