VoLTE, the Next Big Thing for 4G LTE

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VoLTE, Voice over LTE or Voice over Long Term Evolution, is a standards-based technology that is required to support voice calls over an LTE network. In order to offer voice services to LTE users, there are three methods, including circuit switched fallback (CSFB), dual standby, and VoLTE.

The CSFB method will require operators to switch voice calls to slower 2G/3G networks, whereas dual standby solution will require terminals to support 2G/3G and 4G services at the same time. By transmitting voice as IP data via LTE network, VoLTE can function without 2G/3G network and offer higher voice quality and lower latency with less energy consumption. VoLTE is the ultimate choice for delivering voice over LTE.

Who are involved in VoLTE?

To truly benefit from LTE networks and fully utilize spectrum, telecom operators need to be able to transmit voice over LTE. With VoLTE, superior quality of voice can be offered cost effectively for telecom operators. With the rising threat of “Over the Top” (OTT) services provided by VoIP providers, such as Skype, telecom carriers need VoLTE to fight back and stay competitive.

However, as VoLTE is still in its infancy, it remains a challenge for operators to implement this technology. Telecom operators need to work closely with device manufactures and chipset vendors to offer the best quality VoLTE service.

Recently, ZTE, a telecom equipment, network solutions, and mobile devices provider completed the world’s first end-to-end voice over TD-LTE call (VoTD-LTE). The call was done in partnership with China Mobile (NYSE: CHL) and Marvell Technology (NASDAQ: MRVL). The first VoTD-LTE call was conducted on China Mobile’s network in Guangzhou, using ZTE’s TD-LTE technology and core IP Multimedia System platform.

The call was carried out using multi-modes and multi-band smartphones powered by Marvell’s chipsets. This call demonstrated the ability of VoLTE to integrate data and voice services in a network while achieving higher efficiency for operators, such as China Mobile.

Moving forward with VoLTE

As China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator, plans to build and complete 1,200 4G network base stations by the end of this year and aims to launch 4G LTE network for public usage by August, China Mobile needs to push its VoLTE development forward urgently.

Marvell, a global leader in providing complete silicon solutions enabling the digital connected lifestyle, recently introduced the PXA1088 LTE, the industry's first mass market quad-core 5-mode category 4 LTE single-chip solution. PXA1088 supports 2G/3G/4G communications, including LTE. PXA1088 LTE features a dual-radio dual link LTE voice solution, including CSFB solution and VoLTE based on IP Multimedia Subsystem. PXA1088 LTE is expected to be in strong demand to help global Tier-1 OEMs and operators to migrate from 3G to 4G with LTE seamlessly.

On the other hand, Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM), a global leader in semiconductor solutions for wired and wireless communications, is also involved with VoLTE with its recent introduction of the industry’s smallest 4G LTE-Advanced modem, BCM21892. The new Broadcom modem integrates IP Multimedia Subsystem/VoLTE capability, allowing operators to deploy HD voice and other advanced features. Broadcom’s LTE modem provides higher quality voice calls and extends talk-time while its VoLTE calls consumes about 40% less power than 3G calls.

Bottom line

VoLTE enables telecom operators, such as China Mobile, to provide higher quality voice over LTE network. As telecom operators continue to face increasing competition from OTT service providers, operators need to extend their value offerings besides speed. Higher voice quality and lower power consumption will continue to be demand drivers for VoLTE.

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Nick Chiu owns shares of China Mobile. The Motley Fool owns shares of China Mobile. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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