I have come to the end of my journey, with this third and final blog post. I have so far discussed the complexities, the opportunities and the business model evolutions triggered by the introduction of Voice over LTE (VoLTE). But many still question if VoLTE is really necessary, and if it will ever become the game changer that many are hoping for, to trigger the power shift away from the over-the-top (OTT) players.
In my humble opinion, telecom operators have already lost the fight when it comes to consumer voice. Many, if not most people like you and I, are already using OTT applications for most of our voice communications, and it will be very difficult to cure this OTT addiction. I am sure many mobile operators have already come to terms with that fact.
Therefore, the last remaining bastion of the voice world resides with enterprise customers. These are companies that are looking for high quality and that are willing to pay for it. Customers that are demanding and sophisticated expect to receive personalized customer service, something OTTs by nature are not built to provide.
Many OTTs have tried, without much success, to address this market, but I am sure they are on the verge of cracking this nut. Skype through Microsoft, for example, is making interesting headway.
But it is not too late. Operators have not played their last card when it comes to the voice enterprise segment, and that card could well be VoLTE.
This blog post will therefore delve into the possible use of VoLTE as the long-awaited mobile solution to address the untapped enterprise world.
Mobile enterprise services, an untapped market
By definition, up to recently, enterprise customers’ communication needs have been mainly met by fixed solutions. The reality is that, in a world where 80 percent of workers have no desk, mobile enterprise services remain pretty basic, primarily because of limitations coming from the time division multiplexing (TDM) technology.
Additionally, the functionality that you expect from an enterprise telephone system, such as integration with call centers, private branch exchange (PBX) hunt groups, and short code dialing, are not available as part of the mobile enterprise offering.
Nevertheless, the migration to IP, through the advent of LTE and VoLTE, should enable mobile operators to start addressing this market with more enterprise-tailored solutions.
Voice and video conferencing
Obviously, the first services that come to mind are HD voice and rich inter- and intra-corporate video conferences (which facilitate features such as the incorporating of company-specific data, white-boarding capabilities and pop-ups) over mobile devices. The guaranteed quality of service and low latency characteristics of VoLTE are perfectly suited for these applications.
One caveat to this, however, is the average radio performance of LTE inside buildings. The integration of Wi-Fi within the VoLTE solution therefore becomes critical to ensure optimal quality, wherever the customer is located.
Furthermore, there is a need for real-time communications (voice, video and messaging services) to be embedded within the enterprise applications workflow running on smart devices. By its IP nature, VoLTE enables this to happen. But this is only the beginning.
VoLTE service mash-up
From my point of view, VoLTE starts to become interesting in an enterprise environment, when it enables what we call service mash-up, meaning that a user can move from voice to video, share files, send text messages, and access the internet and social media, all within a single session.
Applications in the health and retail sector, where video, voice, and file-sharing applications are required simultaneously between two employees, come to mind as natural use cases. Additionally, we can easily imagine the usefulness of such an integrated communication platform for emergency personnel needing to base critical decisions on the capability to communicate by phone, text, and social media, while they read news footage and reports or while they view videos from people in the field.
With the mobile phone being used more and more as a multimedia device, this type of multi-interaction will become increasingly prevalent and business-critical, not only between employees of a single corporation, but, more importantly, between an enterprise and its customers. If a mobile operator is able to make this interaction a reality for its enterprise customers, it will definitely be seen as a central component of an enterprise’s success and evolution.
VoLTE and unified communications
Now we get to the real interesting stuff, which is the enablement of mobile unified communications (UC). With a cloud UC market estimated to reach $25 billion by 2020 and with the increasing migration of enterprises to mobile, the amalgam of mobile and UC sounds like a marriage made in heaven – if you can deliver it well, of course.
But luckily, LTE and VoLTE have these capabilities. With the migration of mobile to IP and LTE, we are now in a reality where voice and data are not only sent through the same channel, they are actually part of the same application, and this will be the perfect medium for UC innovation. Therefore, cloud PBX, call centers, call recording, collaboration tools, unified messaging, voice, video call and conferencing, and, finally, instant messaging and presence are all capabilities that VoLTE can support.
Being able to package and service all aspects of mobile enterprise communication in an integrated fashion will become increasingly valuable and may be what mobile operators have been looking for to become relevant to enterprises.
So, mobile operators serious about expanding in the enterprise market segment should consider using their VoLTE capabilities to support the rapidly growing UC market.
This call to action concludes my VoLTE blog trilogy. However, to leave you with food for thought, the next questions we should ponder upon should be: What are the complexities and challenges of supporting this in an international and roaming environment, and what is the role, if any, of IPX providers in this equation?
If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to get them in the comments section.
Isabelle is President and Founder of HOT TELECOM, one of the most innovative and creative telecom research and consulting companies in the industry. HOT TELECOM has been supporting Tier 1 and Tier 2 operators on a global basis for over 14 years, particularly in the international and wholesale areas. Most recently, Isabelle has been working with many of the world’s global wholesalers and service providers to help them define their transformation strategy. She has published a number of articles and reports on the subject and has spoken at numerous conferences to share her views on the future of the wholesale business. Isabelle holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA in finance, and she has over 20 years of experience.