Evolve VoLTE to enable real-time interaction over 5G with IMS data channel

How could today’s mobile voice service in LTE networks, based on VoLTE, be taken to the next level in 5G? At Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019 we showed an example of a remote ultrasound scan administered with a haptic glove over 5G between an ambulance and a hospital, using a VoLTE call. It is based on an Ericsson innovation concept—the IMS data channel—which enables adding real-time interaction between people and things, alongside the current VoLTE-based HD voice and video calling services. This real-time interaction concept could be used for hundreds of other use cases for different businesses. Join forces with us to make this a reality in a 5G world!

haptic glove

Solution Marketing Manager, Voice solutions

Solution Marketing Manager, Voice solutions

Category & Hashtags

Everyone is talking about what 5G should be used for and how to make money on new use cases. So, we decided to explore how to evolve today’s mobile voice service in LTE (Voice over LTE) and how it can be taken to the next level for a 5G world. The mobile network infrastructure used for VoLTE today will also be used for 5G voice. We believe there are a lot of valuable and innovative communication services use cases to be developed for different businesses. These will utilize the voice service in combination with either the low latency of 5G or also the high 5G data speeds. 


Telephony services taken to the next level with 5G  

The most cost-efficient approach to start building new services for a 5G world is, of course, to build on what is already deployed in today’s networks. Service providers already have a great asset in their networks today; the quality-assured voice-capable network (VoLTE). So why not start exploring how to innovate on top of what you already have?

This is what we have done, and Ericsson has built on its heritage, where Lars Magnus Ericsson founded Ericsson in 1876 on the premise that access to communications is a basic human need, when he started manufacturing telephones for everyone.

I think we could put our innovation concept into this historical perspective:

Telephony was invented at the end of the 19th century, mobile telephony was made available for the mass market at the end of the 20th century, and now 5G could enable us to touch, feel, and interact on a completely new level remotely through a regular phone call. 

use cases with IMS for 5G


We invite you to join forces with us to make this a reality as a global mass-market service for the benefit of consumers, businesses, and enterprises when we enter the 5G world!


Showcasing a live demo at Mobile World Congress 2019

So what is this all about?

We designed a concept building on the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service that we call “IMS data channel.” We use IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) not just for voice and video calling connectivity; we add on data channels for any kind of data stream within the same session. These data channels can be used to transport any type of data for any purpose, all in synch with the voice and video communication session. The data channels are established with operator provided characteristics for the data to be sent, in order to meet the requirements of the specific use case with respect to latency, robustness, and bandwidth.

It builds on today’s voice service to leverage the service provider VoLTE-enabled network with the inherent telecom values of: global find-and-connect with the phone number, authentication, mobility, session control, quality-of-service (QoS), security, and robustness. These values will continue to apply in 5G voice-enabled networks.

This concept builds on 3GPP standards in combination with some WebRTC features, combining telco assets with web technologies, to create flexibility in combination with operator provided functionality such as quality-of-service and security.

Interactive communication use cases


We built a demonstration for Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019 to show how a use case building on this concept could work in the health sector. This technology could also be used for hundreds of other use cases for other businesses. Have a look at the videos and a case brochure below to find out more about this example use case.

Join forces with us to make this a global mass-market service

Do you think this could be of value to your business when entering the 5G world? Even if the concept builds on already existing procedures in networks and devices, we need to jointly agree in the industry on the concept and introduce the new capabilities in standards and in our products in order to make this a global mass-market service. The impact is not major, but some updates of existing 3GPP specifications and the introduction of some new capabilities in networks and devices are needed, especially for enabling this as a mass-market service on any kind of voice-capable 5G device. A joint effort between service providers, network vendors, device OEMs, and chipset vendors would reduce time to market and avoid unnecessary fragmentation.

How can you as a service provider help make this happen?

Explore what kind of new use cases you would like to use this for. What do your customers need?

Even if standardization efforts should be limited, an agreement on updates in relevant 3GPP specifications and possibly a GSMA profiling of the UNI and network principles are required. Your support is needed to get the changes introduced and approved in 3GPP and in the GSMA specifications.

How can you as a chipset or device vendor help make this happen?

To make the IMS data channel happen and be supported in devices and chipsets, a collaboration effort is needed to agree on the best technology and interaction between device internal logic, as well as to create a needed agreement on what type of end-user experiences to provide. This will avoid unnecessary fragmentation in the industry.

How can you as a regulator or standardization body help make this happen?

By understanding the concept and the potential usefulness that this type of evolved communication can bring to society in different contexts; regulators and standardization bodies can help address the relevant regulations and specifications, so they evolve in pace with technology, making it possible to introduce new services and concepts to the market.

Experience the demo and explore the business values

Check out these videos on remote ultrasound over 5G, between an ambulance on the road and a hospital, using the IMS data channel concept. This was shown in Ericsson’s booth at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019.

See a live demonstration of this concept 


We teamed up with service provider BT in the UK and King’s College London for this demonstration, so here you can listen to a business discussion with them about this concept:


Find out more about this example 5G use case in the health industry in an in-depth brochure.

If you want to join forces with us to make this concept a reality in a 5G world, contact your local Ericsson representative or fill out this contact form!

Find out more how to enable 5G voice in your network, building on VoLTE, to start preparing for future voice and communication related services. If you do not yet have VoLTE in your network, find out how you can deploy it in just weeks with our cloud based solutions.

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