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Voice over LTE outlook

VoLTE subscriptions are expected to exceed 650 million by the end of 2017, creating a foundation for interoperable consumer and enterprise communication services on different devices.


Key findings

  • The number of VoLTE subscriptions1 is expected to reach 5.5 billion in 2023
  • VoLTE has now been launched in more than 125 networks in over 60 countries
  • A range of new consumer and enterprise use cases are being enabled by VoLTE

VoLTE has now been launched in more than 125 networks in over 60 countries across all regions. The number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 5.5 billion by the end of 2023, accounting for more than 80 percent of the combined LTE and 5G subscriptions.

Enabling new consumer and enterprise use cases with VoLTE

VoLTE is delivered via the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and enables operators to offer high-quality, simultaneous communication and data services on smartphones and other devices. Functionality includes HD voice, HD voice+ and music within calls with the new Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec, content sharing within calls, video communication, IP messaging and evolution to chat bots, and allowing several devices to share the same phone number.

Wi-Fi calling is built on the same core network systems as VoLTE, and enables operators to extend their voice service to places with limited cellular coverage. To date, Wi-Fi calling has been implemented on over 55 networks in more than 30 countries.2

There are more than 1,300 VoLTE-enabled device models.3 Cellular smartwatches are one of the latest devices to utilize VoLTE. Users are able to make voice calls directly on their smartwatch, without having a smartphone nearby. Calls can also be transferred between a user’s smartphone and watch.

VoLTE support in Cat-M1-capable Internet of Things (IoT) devices and network infrastructure is now being enabled, and new use cases are being explored. Many IoT use cases could benefit by incorporating basic voice calling functionality. One example is in assistance situations, such as using an alarm panel in an elevator, or calling the owner of a lost dog via its IoT-connected collar. The technology could also be used to improve business performance, for example, enabling faster repair of vending machines by providing a button to call a service center easily.

VoLTE technology will be the foundation for enabling voice calls over 5G access. New communication service use cases in a 5G context are being explored, such as combining them with augmented reality and virtual reality.

VoLTE subscriptions by region (billion)

1 A subscriber is counted as having a VoLTE subscription if making at least one VoLTE call per month

2 GSMA (November 2017)

3 GSA (July 2017), supporting different regions and frequencies