Voice-over-LTE to surpass OTT Voice App services by 2021 – Report

The number of users adopting voice-over-LTE (VOLTE) services will overtake subscribers of over-the-top (OTT) voice app services − like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat − for the first time by 2021. This is according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Juniper Research found the number of VOLTE subscribers will rise from 488 million in 2016 to three billion in 2021, as operators reap the benefits from widespread 4G infrastructure roll-outs. There are now 165 operators in 73 countries investing in VOLTE, including 102 operators that have commercially launched an HD voice service using VOLTE in 54 countries.

Because of this, mobile data traffic attributable to VOLTE will likely rise significantly over the next four years, representing a seven-fold rise from 2 000 petabytes in 2016.

The research found operators will introduce widespread national and international VOLTE roaming, as VOLTE usage rises to over 10 trillion minutes by 2021, equivalent to around 3.3 trillion music tracks. It argued it is imperative that traditionally slow-moving operators enter partnerships with platform vendors in order to accelerate service launches.

Juniper predicted operators will be eager to enter partnerships to maintain their quality of service, rather than downgrade calls to circuit-switched telephony, while roaming. Platform providers, such as Syniverse and Tata Communications, will play a critical role in the future of VOLTE roaming launches, providing operators with the necessary infrastructure and immediate potential partner base to maximise their global reach, according to Juniper.

As such, operators that fail to undergo a shift in attitudes to VOLTE risk losing ground to competitors and increasing user churn.

“Operators have historically used service coverage as a differentiation point; selling the notion of ‘always available’,” says research author Sam Barker.

“The depth and breadth of high-quality voice services will now serve to enrich that offering and entice users: ‘always available, always best-in-class’,” Barker adds.

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