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Voice and communication services outlook

VoLTE is the foundation for enabling voice and communication services on 5G devices. Subscriptions are expected to reach 2.1 billion by the end of 2019.

Key findings

  • The voice over LTE outlook predicts VoLTE subscriptions to reach 2.1 billion by the end of 2019.
  • By the end of 2024, 5.9 billion VoLTE subscriptions are expected.
  • Communications service providers which have launched VoLTE can start adding other new IP-based communication services.
  • VoLTE technology will be the foundation for enabling 5G voice calls.

Communications service providers continue to evolve their voice services and build IP-based networks founded upon VoLTE. These have now been launched in more than 170 networks in over 85 countries.1 VoLTE is being deployed using cloud/NFV technologies in order to support more cost-efficient network operations, enabling easier capacity scaling and faster deployment of new services.

The building of globally connected VoLTE services is ongoing, with more than 20 service providers having signed VoLTE roaming agreements, mainly across North America and Asia Pacific, and over 10 holding interconnect agreements nationally or internationally.2

The number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 5.9 billion by the end of 2024, accounting for more than 85 percent of combined LTE and 5G subscriptions.

VoLTE technology will be the foundation for enabling 5G voice calls, SMS over IP and new types of communication services on various 5G devices. This will be deployed in several network evolution steps in the LTE and 5G networks in different markets, using LTE-NR dual connectivity, Evolved Packet System fallback and voice over NR.

VoLTE subscriptions by region (billion)

New use case uptake and device availability

There are more than 2,100 VoLTE-enabled device models.3 HD voice+4 (Enhanced Voice Services, or EVS) provides improved audio and music quality within calls on VoLTE-capable devices, as well as better reliability across LTE and Wi-Fi. There are 150 HD voice+ devices available and the service has been deployed by 20 service providers.5

Cellular smartwatches with VoLTE-based voice calls have gained market traction, with 70 service provider launches. Video calling over LTE (ViLTE) has been launched by over 20 service providers, and there are more than 290 device models6 available. Wi-Fi calling is starting to become a mainstream service as part of service providers’ VoLTE offering, and has launched in more than 70 networks in over 40 countries, mainly in North America and Europe.7

Service providers that have launched VoLTE can start adding other new IP-based communication services, such as multi-device (including phones, smartwatches and smart speakers sharing a phone number), multi-number (a single phone using several phone numbers), different types of enterprise collaboration services in combination with mobile HD voice, and voice in IoT devices. 5G-related service innovations for consumers, enterprises and industries are being explored, including combinations with augmented and virtual reality, and real-time interaction.

1 GSMA (April 2019)

2 Ericsson and GSMA (April 2019)

3 GSA (March 2019), supporting different regions and frequencies

4 GSMA trademark

5 GSA (April 2019)

6 GSA (March 2019)

7 GSMA (April 2019)