The number of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) connections is likely to reach 2 billion by 2020, increasing from an estimated 123 million in 2015, driven by new roll-outs by telecom operators worldwide, a new study from Juniper Research said.
The marked improvement in voice quality enabled by VoLTE is likely to spur increased adoption of the technology, the study added.
By 2020, VoLTE services will account for over $100 billion in annual service revenue, the study said. It also estimated that Far East & China will account for over 50% of the global VoLTE connections by 2020. The research, found that direct revenues from VoLTE will be limited at first, with increased availability of compatible handsets driving adoption of the technology.
Network operators will initially focus on experience and quality of service, rather than monetisation, with failure to deliver a high quality offering at the outset potentially resulting in churn to rival operators, the study said. Telecom operators, competing on quality of service, are also investing in Wi-Fi calling (VoWi-Fi), which is aimed at tackling the internal coverage issue. Globally, telcos are launching the service to add value for the customers with little investment, where VoLTE is focused on operator network efficiency.
In order to remain competitive, operators will also need to ensure that their communications offerings match those of leading OTT providers, the study suggested, citing the example of Facebook Messenger, which recently launched free HD (High Definition) VoIP call services over cellular and Wi-Fi networks. With this in mind, the study argued that an operator HD Voice service proposition would be a critical element.
HD voice adoption has been steadily rising since 2009, with over 130 operators worldwide offering Mobile HD Voice.
Juniper Research expects the number of capable devices to grow to over 1.3 billion by 2020, driven by manufacturer adoption and operator capability.