The VoLTE Conundrum (or the Elephant in the Room)

LTE is about data and people are still – generally – about talking to one another. So the question is ‘what do we do about voice and LTE?’

LTE is here. There were 100 million LTE subscribers in 2012 and 381 operators are currently investing in it, according to the GSA. As a result, IN platforms are potentially redundant, they don’t do data. Upgrading them increasingly becomes a waste of time. Operators are publicly acknowledging that they need to think like the internet. This means it is time for Real Time.

There is a lot of thinking to be done about LTE business models. Voice is obviously one aspect – do you bundle it and essentially make it ‘free,’ do you keep some elements of older architectures to support it, or do you implement IMS based VoIP?

The latter is the favoured option, according to research conducted by Informa, in a whitepaper published by Openet (you need to register but it is quick – and worth it).

LTE means speed, and speed means opportunity and money – if you can control it. To manage the speed and the resulting needs of their customers, industry leaders are deploying real time charging and balance management systems. The ‘command and control’ systems are moving into the BSS/OSS domain, on the back of real time capabilities. And all of this means, finally, that Marketing can Market and leaders – like HKCSL with their now two-year-old mobile hotspot – can lead.

The whitepaper points to an array of emerging use cases. My favourite – as it is in the news at the moment – is about roaming.

A simple example could be an outbound roaming customer who has switched off data roaming. The PCC system recognizes this, and in real-time, looks up the existing data warehouse and sees that this customer has a monthly subscription to a music streaming service. This enriched information is sent to an outbound system which triggers an SMS to be sent promoting a customer specific offer – e.g. buy a 1 day 50mb data roaming pass, with free access to music streaming service for €3.

Although, according to recent research from a similar source uncovered the fact that only 10 percent of operators have real time capability for their postpaid customers, it also suggests that 90 percent recognize the need for it.

As Openet suggest, real time charging becomes the revenue generating infrastructure of the new data world and provides scope for innovative, sophisticated offerings. What is also fascinating is watching charging become closer and more transparent to the customer.

What we do about voice over LTE is just one issue that needs discussion and we will dig deeper into business models based on speed over the next few weeks.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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