Paul Beaver, Anite: Robust High Quality VoLTE Service to Drive LTE

Paul Beaver, Products Director at wireless device testing company, Anite

In an Interview with LteWorld, Paul Beaver, Director of Products at Anite, a global leader in wireless device testing technology, explained importance and challenges for VoLTE (Voice over LTE) technology. Here’s what he had to say:

What is the importance of VoLTE’s commercial success in supporting the development of LTE?

VoLTE’s commercial success is probably going to be determined over the next few years as operators are going to need some time to figure out the best way of making VoLTE a commercially profitable proposition. However, in the short term, LTE’s development will depend on the technology of VoLTE to deliver a robust and high quality of service. There is no industry consensus as to the best way to monetize VoLTE services, so the current priority is to ensure that the technology performs to the required standard.

How lab-based testing can help ensure seamless interoperability of evolving VoLTE implementations?

Initially, it is highly likely that individual operators will produce VoLTE implementations with individual characteristics. Lab-based testing will work to ensure that devices can seamlessly interoperate with a range of simulated network conditions. By testing devices across a number of different network environments, device manufacturers and operators alike can be assured that their customers will benefit from high levels of quality that they would expect from VoLTE.

At an early stage, it is likely that VoLTE users will be able to make use of the service on their home network, but there is a risk that they won’t be able to roam onto other LTE networks (without falling back to legacy technologies). However, in the long term, roaming will undoubtedly need to be enabled. Due to the wide range of individual VoLTE implementations among operators, lab-based interoperability testing is imperative in order to deliver a seamless roaming service.

What is the current state of market readiness for VoLTE devices ?

Recent announcements in regard to commercial VoLTE launches include SKT in South Korea and MetroPCS in the U.S. However, VoLTE is undoubtedly still in its early stages and it is unlikely that a full scale commercial VoLTE service will be launched across multiple networks before 2014 at the earliest.

What are the ‘test’ challenges for VoLTE?

As previously mentioned, the need to ensure interoperability in relation to device testing is undoubtedly the primary challenge for VoLTE. The range of different operator implementations will mean that devices must be capable of dealing with multiple scenarios and standards. Lab-based testing can ensure that devices are configured to meet those requirements.

What are the main hurdles you see for VoLTE?

One hurdle that operators face in terms of VoLTE is how they are going to package mobile tariffs. Subscribers are currently used to paying a certain price for a voice call on their specific 2G or 3G plan. Consumers will expect VoLTE to deliver a similarly high quality of service, but as people
become more commercially and technologically aware, they may expect to pay less for VoLTE services. As VoLTE makes better use of bandwidth, consumers may expect a lower priced voice service. Operators could find themselves in a position where they are unable to command the same price per minute as they currently do.

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