The launch of Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services by major carriers first in South Korea and soon in the United States is part of the effort to move voice calls from the circuit switched 2G and 3G networks to the packet switched LTE networks.
That will have important implications for suppliers of VoLTE platforms, ranging from infrastructure providers to handset suppliers.
“For CDMA operators such as Verizon, aggressive LTE deployment is necessary because a VoLTE call cannot fall back to the circuit switched domain,” said Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research. “Even for WCDMA operators like AT&T, it makes sense to do likewise because LTE is much more spectral efficient than WCDMA.”
But enabling VoLTE also makes possible spectrum refarming, making it easier for mobile service providers to turn off 2G networks and use that spectrum for more 4G capacity.
As such, by the end of 2014, when VoLTE has gained more momentum, ABI Research expects more than 93 percent of the North American population to have access to LTE, for example.
“In 2014, LTE handset shipments in Asia-Pacific and North America—the two largest handset markets—will grow by 28 percent and 25 percent to reach 150 million and 81 million respectively,” said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director of the LTE Research Service.