How Is VoLTE Like An Election?

When it comes to decision-making, as a general rule, people like to be presented with options. That’s certainly true in political elections. Sometimes the differences between options is very clear and it’s easy to express a preference. Other times, there are trade-offs and the choice is more difficult.  One has to carefully evaluate the potential long-term impacts of either choice. This is where the similarity with VoLTE, and specifically VoLTE roaming comes in.

Voting for International VoLTE
A logical next step for a mobile operator, after having launched VoLTE domestically, is to select the method for providing international VoLTE roaming to its subscribers. The number of domestic VoLTE networks is growing at the rate of about one launch per week. So inevitably, a very large number of operators will need to make a choice for a VoLTE roaming method, and possibly struggle with the available alternatives.

VoLTE Implementations

The number of operators with VoLTE launched has grown exponentially in the past few years, starting with 3 in December 2012, to 82 in August 2016 (source: GSMA).

Available Choices for VoLTE Roaming
Today, operators can provide roaming with a fallback to 3G roaming. However, if an MNO wants to reap the benefits of VoLTE to its full extent, the 4G roaming methods as defined by GSMA – S8 Home Routed (S8HR) and Local Break-Out (LBO) – are the future-proof way forward. But, like opposing candidates in an election race, they come with trade-offs.

S8HR is gaining traction in the market, due to its simplicity and potential for shorter time-to-market.

One result of S8HR is the transition from voice roaming minutes to data roaming packets. This change brings along a drop in revenues for the visited network, as the gain in data roaming revenues doesn’t compensate for the loss in voice roaming revenues. This effect may sound attractive for the home network operator, as S8HR will lower its roaming costs, but the flip side is that the wholesale department of this home network operator will lose mobile terminating revenues.

The S8HR voice minutes are now treated as data. They are transported back to the home network, bypassing the wholesale/carrier department of the operator, and revenue is no longer generated with the termination of voice into the home network. Depending on the specific situation of the mobile operator – whether more inbound or outbound roaming – S8HR can also make the net spend less favorable.

Stay Tuned!
Watch this space for more to come on the tradeoffs of LBO.



How is VoLTE Like a Vacation?

Well, it’s all about the packing.  Is three T-shirts enough or two too many? What about a jacket? Are you really going to go to the gym? If you don’t bring the hiking shoes, you definitely won’t be able to hike. And what about packing a sweater, just in case? Never mind the laptop; you’re on vacation!

Preparing for your summer vacation can be about as stressful as planning for your VoLTE implementation – to ensure a worry-free experience, you need to think through the potential hazards and opportunistic side-trips.


Preparing for the VoLTE Journey

In a recent survey conducted by Ovum*, approximately half of the operator respondents indicated that they are planning to launch international VoLTE interconnection and roaming within a year of domestic launch. However, they aren’t sure what to pack for their international VoLTE journey. Specifically, operators are unsure about which roaming model to choose – Local Break-Out (LBO) or S8 Home Routed (S8HR). The choice for a roaming model could easily be reduced to a technical evaluation; however, the commercial impact must also be considered. For example, selecting the S8HR model, which treats voice as data, will negatively impact inbound roaming revenues, retail outbound roaming revenues and wholesale termination revenues. Decisions related to international VoLTE should be made with input from marketing, strategy and technical departments, as it is a trade-off between criteria like time-to-market, quality of service, commercial impact, and support of features (e.g. lawful intercept and emergency services). Coordination between departments is needed to ensure a smooth VoLTE journey.

A questionnaire we conducted among our customers taught us that some of them are already preparing themselves for international VoLTE this year while other have no plans to introduce VoLTE interworking and roaming before 2017. Preparing for the VoLTE journey is obviously far from booking a last minute vacation deal. It requires research, planning, coordination, procuring the right equipment and making sure it all works.

Get Advice from Experienced Travelers

The Ovum survey also showed that mobile operators are confused about what needs to be done to support international VoLTE. However, as the report concludes, these operators do not have to face these decisions alone, nor should they. IPX providers, like iBasis, have the knowledge and expertise to explain the implications of the different decisions made, and can help improve the speed and efficiency of deployments.

No need to do a time-consuming web search to find the best holiday spots that will fit your vacation plans! The IPX hub – an intelligent online platform, will greatly simplify new service launches. Based on GSMA specifications, it guarantees both quality of service and security. Like a professional guide, the iBasis IPX hub also plays a critical role as a mediator between various roaming systems and can ensure interworking between different VoLTE Roaming models. For a full overview of VoLTE roaming models, challenges and how iBasis IPX hub architecture can help, please view the webinar presentation that was held by Ovum and iBasis.

Clearly, it is important for mobile operators to benefit from the advantages that come along with VoLTE, for both international calling as well as roaming. It might be more challenging than a simple trip to the beach, but, with thoughtful preparation, the journey will be so worth it.


* Ovum Survey, Confusion Reigns over VoLTE, ViLTE, and RCS Roaming, March 2016

Bridging the gap between VoLTE Roaming Models

Most mobile operators around the world are planning to launch voice service over the LTE infrastructure, better known in the industry as VoLTE. Before 2014, standards bodies such as the 3GPP and GSMA, along with most mobile operators, were considering the Local Breakout (LBO) model for VoLTE roaming. In this model, a visited LTE operator provides local breakout of roaming calls, routing them locally or sending them to the home network for routing. This was considered an effective voice roaming model, similar to the roaming model used by 3G networks.

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