Launching VoLTE successfully
Date: Fri, 07/03/2015 - 12:27 Source:
By Ian Ginn, Sales Director UK, Blue Telecom Consulting
Ian Ginn, Sales Director UK, Blue Telecom Consulting
Image credited to Blue Telecom Consulting
Launching Voice over LTE (VoLTE) seems to be yet “another” large project in the operators’ pipeline, but I consider that it can be a great opportunity to do things a bit differently from the very start, if well planned and executed.
The question is whether the colossal time and efforts that are being spent by Operators to make the efficient IP-only 4G networks backward compatible will ever payoff. The drivers are efficiencies in spectrum and the promise of being able to provide convergent services based on IP. Moving voice calls to data networks at least in theory means a simpler network to manage and thus lower operational costs. Other industries such as digital and media have been successfully delivering these types of services for years, eating into the two cash cows on which telecoms has been built, namely voice and messaging, only at a fraction of the investment.
But I'm seeing a consistent trend that Operators are layering networks and running them in parallel which is not financially sustainable in the medium or long term. 4G is another network and is not intrinsically compatible with 2G and 3G. As an all-IP network, it provides customers with a better mobile broadband experience and can deliver services which require bandwidth on the move, such as video. Given the realisation that 2G and 3G networks will at some time be turned off, naturally there is a compelling desire from the Operator perspective to support Voice as a network and quality of service function over 4G or LTE. This though, requires further investments in the core IMS and LTE for radio, which together with compatible handsets are the basic ingredients for VoLTE. All-IP networks may also be exposed to new security risks and vulnerabilities which again call for new tools and solutions in the area of network security. Further, in this article formerly published in TelecomKH some advice on how to best protect the VoIP or IMS system against potential threats is given.
The Operators’ journey towards VoLTE will bring with it a series of technical, commercial and operational challenges which need to be carefully considered before any investments are undertaken:
• The number of elements impacted by the service: eNodeB, S&P GW, PCRF, MME, MSC, MTAS, Charging, among others.
• Policy & Charging Controller traffic: Two to three times increase in TPS volumes.
• Session correlation is a must as Rx and Gx have to function simultaneously.
• DRA becomes a must for PGW and PCRF session correlation.
• IMS and PCC solution maturity and fine tuning is a must for a smooth and successful service deployment.
• Implications of moving from a circuit switched network to an all IP network and thus the exposure of the VoIP/IMS network to new security issues.
Commercial and Operational:
• Securing first day, first user call quality is a must, since comparison with OTTs will be a risk.
• VoLTE is not launched due to customer demands but serves network efficiency and engineering purposes.
• New service that requires a unique E2E focus on Operator’s organization.
• Operators do not expect big revenues from VoLTE, so operator related CapEx and OpEx have to be under control in all activities and phases.
• The Interconnect issue between Operators is not well established and needs further standardisation.
Operators should seek independent advice and support in these and related areas, ideally before new service launches.