Unified Communications

VoLTE: A Reality Check on Its Availability and How Carriers Could Take It to the Next Level

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 09, 2015

Alido Di Giovanni thinks it’s shocking that people today can’t get mobile messages on their laptops. Now that cellular service providers have established a base for VoLTE, however, they are ready to address such multidevice solutions, he says. And he adds that IMS can enable that.

Some people see IMS as overkill in terms of its complexity and functionality, admits Di Giovanni, president and CEO of Summit Tech. While that may be true in some cases, he says, IMS is “second to none” in offering the performance and reliability required by some applications – and it can at the same time enable service providers to take their VoLTE offerings to the next level.

The IMS performance would be important for police applications involving video streaming, he says. Di Giovanni also talks about how IMS could come into play by enabling a connected car to trigger a phone call to a waiter at a drive-in restaurant as the vehicle approaches. The restaurant and service provider could also layer on top of that the ability for the waiter to push a menu or special offers to the car’s heads-up display, and with the sweep of the hand the motorist pay for his or her order on that interface, suggests Di Giovanni.

Service providers, he says, are now on the verge of launching some major projects that will allow for calling on tablets, and will ring laptops, smartphones, and tablets when there are incoming calls. He adds that service providers are also talking to car manufacturers about IMS-enabled VoLTE services that allow calling from the car, and that can involve RCS messaging, and the car manufacturers are in turn asking their OEMs for solutions to support thing kind of thing. So Summit Tech has built an IMS stack for the connected car and is offering it to OEMs, he says.

All that may be true, but according to Fraunhofer’s (News - Alert) HP Baumeister, VoLTE as it now stands is not as widely available as some suggest.

The way service providers are rolling out VoLTE “is very feeble,” he said. Verizon (News - Alert) has done a nationwide VoLTE rollout, he added, but AT&T has not. And there are only a couple VoLTE-capable endpoints, he said. One VoLTE-capable iPhone (News - Alert), he added, requires users to manually select VoLTE.

Baumeister also talked about the potential for using EVS, or enhanced voice service, a 3GPP-approved technology with the ability to reproduce very high audio quality at the full-HD voice level or higher, and at very low bit rates. Fraunhofer and its EVS partners including Docomo and NTT, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Orange, Samsung (News - Alert), and a few others have been in discussions with service providers about the potential for EVS use. He said he believes all service providers will eventually employ EVS, but says that will take time, and the ability of EVS-capable handsets, which are not here yet.

For more on EVS, check out this story.  

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere