We are one step closer to 5G interactive calling

In the future, 5G interactive calling can transform the mobile phone call experience. The technology behind this Ericsson innovation – IMS data channels – has now been approved in the 3GPP standard. Find out how you can support to commercialize this new service.

boy with mobile phone in the grass

Solution Marketing Manager, Voice solutions

Solution Marketing Manager, Voice solutions

Category & Hashtags

Today, making mobile voice calls is an essential part of how we communicate, and a service that most people presume will stay the same. However, in the future, we could get an even more useful voice calling service by enabling interactive calling capabilities for 5G smartphones. This means that during a regular phone call, you and the person you are talking to could both interact with content within the native call screen (without needing a special app). You could both browse the web together, look at photos or videos from each other’s phones, or play a game together. What’s even more valuable is that businesses could improve customer support calls by easily sharing, for example, drawings or augmented reality overlays to guide their customers during phone calls. You can read more details about the new services that interactive calling will unlock in a previous blog post: Interactive calling: A new experience for 5G smartphones.

The technology behind this kind of service is a generic 5G voice technology that can be used for more than just providing an interactive experience on 5G smartphone native call screens. There are numerous business and enterprise use cases where an interactive experience will add value. For more examples, head to this blog post: Evolve VoLTE to enable real-time interaction over 5G with IMS data channel.


IMS data channels now approved in the 5G standard

Ericsson started working on this innovation a few years back, and we are happy to share that the technology behind this concept – IMS data channel – was approved in March 2020 by 3GPP, the global telecommunications standardization forum, in the 5G release 16. This is a big step towards making this a commercial 5G voice service.

There are still some minor items to be approved in related 3GPP specifications, and we hope they’ll be approved during 2020, but the main technology is ready to go from a 5G standardization perspective. If you want to dig into the details of the 3GPP specification, read sections 4.2 and 6.2.10 in the 3GPP Technical Specification 26.114.

The IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) data channel is handled like any other media stream in the call – in parallel to voice and optional video calling media. Like voice and video calling, the new data channel media can be charged separately. A technological overview of this concept can be found in this blog post: Interactive calling over 5G – how does it work?


How to make interactive calling a commercial 5G service

So, what’s needed to make 5G interactive calling a commercial service in the future, for the benefit of all 5G smartphone users? You could help make this a reality, depending on your role in the industry.

Joint cross industry collaboration for interactive calling

Figure 1: Joint cross industry collaboration needed to make 5G interactive calling a globally available service

Firstly, it will require developments in 5G network infrastructure as well as 5G voice-compatible chipsets and devices. The next step requires broader business development, and companies need to start designing various use cases and services to meet different enterprise and end-user requirements.


Network infrastructure support

The IMS system needs to be upgraded to handle the data channel media in a 5G voice call as well as handle policies for Quality-of-Service (QoS). For delay-sensitive use cases, the IMS data channel will utilize the already defined QoS framework in the radio and packet core systems.


5G chipsets and devices

The IMS data channel is reusing existing WebRTC data channel technology that already exists in most smartphones. It is just a matter of combining this technology with telecom protocols in the device.

The 5G device architecture needs to allow applications to establish IMS data channels and influence QoS. This will require new support in the device 5G voice IMS stack. For an interactive calling experience, the native call screen also needs to handle dynamic web content.


Join forces with us to make this a commercial 5G service!

You can also help this become a commercial 5G service in the future. This is a service that needs to be co-developed between infrastructure vendors, the device eco-system, and service providers and their customers.

Get in touch with us if you are a chipset or device vendor and want to discuss how to integrate this into the next generation of 5G devices, or if you are a service provider with the resources to develop this together with us and device vendors. This is an opportunity to explore new 5G voice and communication services business opportunities, both for the consumer segment, as well as for businesses, industries and enterprises.

Contact us


If you want to find out more about interactive calling, we have gathered a lot of content, including blog posts, videos and other inspirational papers on our 5G voice page. Scroll down the page and you can find a whole section about 5G interactive calling.

The Ericsson Blog

Like what you’re reading? Please sign up for email updates on your favorite topics.

Subscribe now

At the Ericsson Blog, we provide insight to make complex ideas on technology, innovation and business simple.