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Service provider smart speaker voice calling has arrived

The newly released Ericsson Mobility Report Nov 2019 reveals that VoLTE subscriptions will reach 6.4 Billion by the end of 2025. This also builds the foundation to extend voice services beyond smartphones. The latest industry developments see service providers introducing voice calling on smart speakers, using the same phone number as your smartphone. Read on to find out how you could introduce this new service to your customers.

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The Ericsson Mobility Report November 2019 includes an article with the latest VoLTE subscription data and voice market updates. So, let’s dig more into one of the latest market trends mentioned there. Back in 2018 at Mobile World Congress Barcelona, Ericsson demonstrated how to make voice calls on smart speakers via a VoLTE network using the same phone number as your smartphone. We also showed how to SMS on a smart speaker.

Watch the voice calling demonstration from MWC 2018

 

and a smart speaker SMS video

 

We show cased this to inspire service providers to look at what new types of services they could offer on top of their VoLTE enabled networks.

Now this type of service has started to be introduced on the market, with the first service providers launching voice calling on smart speakers commercially in the UK and Australia. Vodafone in the UK enabled voice calling through Amazon smart speakers for the first time as part of their OneNumber service; and Telstra followed suit in Australia with Google Nest smart speakers. It’s likely this service will continue to roll out across more countries using these major smart speaker brands. There are also a lot of other smart speaker brands, for example in Asia Pacific, which could be integrated with this service once telecom network infrastructure vendors and mobile service providers begin developing it.

As the smart speaker market has taken off – with millions of devices sold worldwide – regular voice calling could become a new mainstream service once service providers start introducing this in their networks. The phone number is still the world’s largest social community; you can reach almost anyone on the planet via their phone number, whether it is a mobile number or a fixed phone number. Smart speakers could also be a way of modernizing fixed voice services in homes, by introducing a modern home device that the whole family can receive calls on, for example from the grandparents.

If you read the details about these initial service provider launches, they highlight user values centered around ease of use with hands free communication – for example, taking a call while your hands are chopping onions in the kitchen. There are more situations when taking calls on smart speakers would really add value to people’s lives; maybe you are sick, disabled or just elderly and have troubles getting up from the sofa or bed to find your phone in another room. If you have a smart speaker nearby, it’s easy to answer a call, and also make a call in an emergency.

 

So how is voice calling on smart speakers enabled in a mobile network?

This could be done in several ways. But if you are going to build on the value of using the same phone number as on your mobile phone, the main building block is the IMS (IP Multimedia Sub-system). This is the network platform that enables IP-based voice and communication services for all new LTE and 5G smartphones and other LTE, Wi-Fi and 5G voice capable devices. If you are a service provider and have already launched VoLTE, you already have the main components in place.

Adding smart speakers to the voice service bundle

Fig 1. Adding smart speakers to the voice service bundle

If you have an Ericsson based VoLTE network deployed, you need to activate new software functionality in the Ericsson Session Border Controller. In addition, the Ericsson Secure Entitlement Server is needed to onboard the smart speaker to the user’s existing mobile phone number. Furthermore, you need to enable software for multi-device calling in your existing IMS servers to enable the voice calling service on smart speakers.

The service must also be verified and tested with a smart speaker supplier. This means the implementation can differ depending on if it’s for an Amazon, Google or other smart speaker brand, and if the service provider wants to include different options for the user experience.

Additional features could include adding more people to a call, for example, just say; “Alexa; add mother to the call”, or “hey Google; add the caller identity +1 23456789 to the call”. You could also manage your advanced call settings by a simple voice command. It could also be possible to access your subscription account data, and this interface could provide an easy way for the service provider to offer a data or other service top-up.

If you want to know how to enable service provider voice calling via smart speakers in your mobile network, contact us to enable this on top of your Ericsson Cloud VoLTE and Evolved Communication enabled network.

Contact us

If you still have not deployed VoLTE in your network, which is required to enable service provider voice calling on smart speakers, find out how to deploy VoLTE easily with one of our cloud-based solutions.

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