Tata Comms bringing VoLTE to India

Tata Communications is launching VoLTE solutions in India, allowing users to make calls over their 4G network.

While LTE networks carry data at high speed they are not currently considered a quality carrier of voice. Since most of the revenue for telecom operates comes from voice services, VoLTE is expected to become a key factor for the success of 4G. It allows mobile operators offer high-definition voice over 4G LTE networks.

"Voice still is a killer app for service providers. Consumers may pay twice, if they experience the quality of HD voice on VoLTE," said John Hayduk, president of product management and service development at Tata Communications.

According to the company, mobile voice quality issues are an ongoing concern for telecom operators and improved voice quality will lead to increased usage, and ultimately, better revenue for companies.

In India, Bharti Airtel and Aircel have already launched 4G services in some cities on the 2,300MHz band, or using TD-LTE technology. Reliance Jio Infocomm is the sole holder of a pan-India licence for 4G LTE on TD-LTE band.

Analysts say poor voice quality on the band is one of the factors preventing operators with 4G licences from launching services in a broader way. Reliance Jio is expected to start rolling out services sometime next year.

In India's telecom market, Hayduk said voice business makes up 70-80% of total revenue, compared with 50-60% in developed countries. This will change with the rollout of 4G services and changes in the regulatory environment, he added.

To date, nationwide launches of VoLTE have happened only in small countries or city-states, such as South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Rollouts in the US and Japan are expected to begin towards the end of 2014, according to Infonetics Research.

Hayduk said some Indian operators are investing massively in 4G LTE and may try to launch the services in the top 15-25 cities as quickly possible. "Others are more pragmatic by focusing on only one area, and move on slowly," he said. "It also depends on the spectrum assets you have."


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