Global 5G Voice Users to Reach 2.5B by 2026

By Greg Tavarez, TMCnet Editor  |  May 17, 2022

The number of voice-over-5G users will grow by 780% to reach 2.5 billion by 2026, rising from 290 million in 2022, according to a new study by Juniper Research. The growth will be driven by the acceleration of 5G rollouts following a slowing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operators are urged to capitalize on the growth of voice-over-5G users to create a new portfolio of voice services. That includes recommendations to prioritize interactive calling, intelligent call routing and integration of AI-based interactive voice services, as these provide the most immediate return on investment of voice-over-5G.

In fact, interactive calling is seen as a key opportunity for operators who have launched 5G to provide more valuable voice services and compete with OTT voice apps that have become popular over recent years. Interactive calling leverages 5G networks to offer advanced voice calling functionality, including interactive content and screensharing, directly in the native calling app on smartphones, which will negate the need for third-party applications.

Current 4G voice technology, VoLTE, is not sufficient to effectively support interactive calling. The 4G networks has restricted the use of interactive features and AI in operators’ voice services for 4.4 billion-plus VoLTE users.

The Juniper report also forecasted operator-billed voice revenue will decline by 16% over the next four years, as P2P voice traffic migrates to third-party voice apps, making operators’ ability to fully monetaize their 5G networks critical. Operators are recommended to capitalize on the growth of 5G to develop new business-oriented voice services, including interactive calling. However, 5G voice services must emulate operators’ current business messaging solutions by levying the cost on enterprises, rather than monetizing mobile subscriber usage.

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Edited by Erik Linask