Mobile network service providers are focused on defending their traditional voice services from new market disruption that threatens to further erode their legacy business model. Armed with new technology and bold plans for more rapid deployment, savvy operators are responding to the incursion.
The number of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) connections is now anticipated to reach 2 billion by 2020, rising from an estimated 123 million in 2015, according to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research.
The research uncovered that the marked improvement in voice quality, enabled by VoLTE, is likely to spur increased adoption of the technology by mobile network service providers across the globe. Besides, given the downward trajectory of voice service revenue trends, wireless network operators must act swiftly to slow the decline.
Juniper found that direct revenues from VoLTE will likely be limited at first, with increased availability of compatible smartphones driving adoption of the HD (High Definition) voice technology. However, the network operator sense of urgency will become elevated as more non-traditional competitors enter the mobile voice services marketplace.
Mobile network operators will initially focus on experience and quality of service, rather than monetization. That being said, Juniper believes that failure to deliver a high quality offering at the outset could potentially result in subscriber churn to rival operators.
Mobile network operators, competing on quality of service, are also investing in voice over Wi-Fi calling (VoWi-Fi) — aimed at tackling the internal network coverage issue.
The research found that operators are launching the VoWi-Fi service to add value for the customers with little extra investment, where VoLTE is focused more on operator network efficiency.
Formidable Competitor Enters the Global Arena
Juniper also claimed that to remain competitive, mobile network operators must quickly ensure that their voice communications offerings match those of the leading over-the-top (OTT) service providers.
They cited the example of Facebook Messenger, which launched ‘free’ HD VoIP call services over cellular and Wi-Fi networks. With this powerful competitor now threatening core voice service revenues, launching HD voice offerings will become a critical defense strategy for mobile network operators.
HD voice adoption has been steadily rising since 2009, with over 130 mobile network operators worldwide offering Mobile HD Voice. Juniper expects the number of capable devices to grow to over 1.3 billion by 2020, driven by more mobile handset manufacturers introducing new products.
Other key findings from the study include:
- Far East and China will account for over 50 percent of the global VoLTE connections by 2020.
- By 2020, VoLTE services could account for over $100 billion in annual service revenue.