Far East leads on VoLTE rollouts

Statistics unveiled by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) have given an update on LTE network rollout globally, as well as some insight into LTE-A and voice over LTE (VoLTE) deployments. Unsurprisingly perhaps, operators in the Far East are the dominant success stories for early VoLTE development and live deployments.

Of the 16 live global VoLTE rollouts to date, 11 belong to operators across Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. Singaporean mobile operator M1 is the most recent to join the club, meaning every MNO in the country now offers VoLTE calling services as well as LTE-A. In a statement released by M1, its LTE-A network is capable of download speeds of up to 300Mbps, and integration between its 4G and 3G networks will deliver seamless HD voice quality and improved reliability.

With such proliferation of both LTE-A and VoLTE in the Far East, the technological divide between APAC and the west has scarcely been more apparent. Only one of the 16 live VoLTE launches belongs to a European operator, Vodafone Germany, while three of the top four US carriers (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) have gone live on the HD voice service.

Elsewhere, the GSA has reported that 393 operators have commercially launched LTE in 138 countries, 107 of which have launched in the past year. Carrier aggregation LTE-A deployments continue as a major trend for 116 operators, with 64 operators having launched LTE-A in 39 countries.

Speaking on the boom in both LTE-A and VoLTE, Alan Hadden, VP of Research at the GSA, highlighted the progress made in the past 12 months.

“Interest in VoLTE has surged and over twice as many operators are investing in VoLTE compared to a year ago,” he said. “16 operators have launched HD voice service enabled by VoLTE in 7 countries, compared to only 3 launched in March 2014. Many more launches will happen in 2015.”

Many European operators have already announced their intentions to go live with VoLTE, with Vodafone, EE and Telefónica Germany both looking to launch this year.

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