Easing the Way as U.S. VoLTE Deployments Begin
On May 22nd, T-Mobile became the first tier-one operator to launch voice-over-LTE service in the US. Twenty four hours later, AT&T followed suit. Verizon is also planning its own deployments in 2014, and handset makers including LG and Samsung are stepping up to the plate with new software updates that make select smartphone models VoLTE-compliant.
The cost savings and quality-of-service improvements that come with VoLTE are huge. However, that doesn’t mean the road to deployment is easy. VoLTE service has to perform like enterprise-class voice-over-IP, but over much longer distances and across infrastructure that is far more complex. Operators need to be able to see the effects of a multitude of variables and to understand what those metrics mean in the context of business operations.
For example, basic performance data might tell you that customers are using 80 percent of the bandwidth available from one cell tower. However, an operator also needs to understand how to use that information in the context of other data to determine the right speed at which to transition bandwidth resources from circuit-switched voice to VoLTE service.
Or, consider a situation where a large customer region suddenly begins suffering from poor call quality. Is it because of an issue with latency along a particular traffic route? And if so, what’s causing slow response times? Is the problem software-related? Or are errors piling up because of network congestion? If the problem is congestion, has a piece of hardware failed, or is there an overall capacity shortage?
With so many dependent variables in the performance equation, operators need:
- A highly granular view of operations, and
- The ability to define KPIs that are useful for making concrete business decisions.
Operators also need to have a plan in place for scaling services quickly. Strategy Analytics predicts that the number of VoLTE users will jump from nine million in 2013 to more than 800 million within five years. We are only at the beginning of the VoLTE trend now, but getting performance monitoring strategies right in the short term will be critical to success as deployments continue to spread.