To understand the scintillating humor of the title (ho ho!), you’ll need to know what VoLTE is. Besides being held up as the future of mobile communications, VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE – and LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. Let’s backtrack a little to find out what’s going on.
Underneath It All, There’s IP
The story starts with LTE, a wireless broadband technology developed to provide 4G communications. 4G calls made with mobiles allow for faster data rates and reduced latency compared to earlier technologies like 3G. Whether or not the full name of Long Term Evolution is appropriate remains to be seen, but that is how the engineers who developed LTE called it. The upper layers of LTE look like TCP/IP. A-ha, you say, TCP/IP is a basic building block of the web communications. And you’re right. Not only that, but IP (Internet Protocol) is a component of VoIP, which stands for Voice over IP.
The ‘Wire-Like’ Promise of LTE
Now things will hopefully be a little clearer. Voice calls from conventional phones (or VoIP phones) can now be routed over the Internet using VoIP, instead of the traditional phone network. Voice calls from mobile phones are starting to be routed over the LTE network, instead of the ‘traditional’ mobile voice network. Certain large communications providers have already announced VoLTE services. The overall LTE promise to mobile users who have the right mobile devices is a ‘wire-like’ experience wherever they are, combining data, voice, video and messaging capabilities. Advantages also include better voice communication quality (HD or High Definition audio) and the efficient use of collaboration apps between mobile users wherever they are.
Will 1 Billion VoIP Users Generate 1 Billion VoLTES?
VoLTE is effectively MoIP or mobile over IP. Mobile VoIP is a part of that. A move to VoLTE could also be a big deal because of the continuing growth of the smartphone market. A rapid renewal rate is also bringing in smartphones with the latest technology. A recent forecast from Juniper Research suggests that one billion people will use mobile VoIP by 2017. A large part of those users are likely to use free smartphone apps that make use of Wi-Fi connections, another solution for MVoIP. The percentage that uses VoLTE will depend on how communications providers structure their service charges.
Money, Money, Money
As a comparison, VoIP for conventional phones often allows users to eliminate call charges – or at least to replace them with a flat monthly fee. That means no limitation on the number of calls made or in many cases the countries to which those calls are made. VoLTE does not yet appear to be at that stage of illuminated thinking. Providers have been heading down the route of making VoLTE calls count against your mobile phone subscription minutes. Users still need to keep an eye on their usage if they don’t want the temptation of better audio and faster data in their calls to wipe out their minutes and data allowances every month. Ah, the price of progress!