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Voice over LTE outlook

At the end of 2018, VoLTE subscriptions will be close to 1.4 billion, with operators introducing a wide range of new voice service use cases.


Key findings

  • By the end of 2018, voice over LTE (VoLTE) subscriptions will be close to 1.4 billion.
  • The number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 6 billion by the end of 2024.
  • VoLTE has now been launched in more than 155 networks in over 75 countries.
  • VoLTE technology will be the foundation for enabling 5G voice calls on different types of 5G devices.
  • Operators are introducing a wide range of new voice service use cases.

Evolution of voice services to IP, cloud and 5G

Communications service providers continue to evolve their voice services and build IP-based communication service networks based on VoLTE. It has now been launched in more than 155 networks in over 75 countries, across all regions.1

VoLTE is now being deployed using cloud/NFV technologies in order to support more cost-efficient network operations, enabling faster scaling of capacity as well as faster deployment of new services.

The building of globally connected VoLTE services has started, with more than 20 service providers having signed VoLTE roaming agreements and over 10 holding voice interconnect agreements nationally or internationally.2

The number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 6 billion by the end of 2024, accounting for around 90 percent of combined LTE and 5G subscriptions. VoLTE technology will be the foundation for enabling 5G voice calls on different types of 5G devices.

New use case uptake and device availability

There are more than 1,800 VoLTE-enabled device models.3 The usage of next-generation 3GPP standardized voice codec Enhanced Voice Services (EVS), also known as HD voice+,4 is starting to pick up. HD voice+ provides improved audio and music quality within calls on VoLTE-capable devices, as well as better call reliability across LTE and Wi-Fi. More than 150 HD voice+ enabled devices are available, and over 15 service providers have deployed the service.5

Cellular smartwatches with VoLTE-based voice calls enabled have gained market traction, with more than 50 service provider launches during the last year. Video calling over LTE (ViLTE) has been launched by over 20 service providers, and there are more than 220 device models6 available.

Other VoLTE-based services include Wi-Fi calling, voice in IoT devices, multi-device (devices such as phones, smartwatches and smart speakers sharing a phone number) and multi-persona (a single phone using several phone numbers), while combinations with, for example, augmented and virtual reality in 5G are being explored.

VoLTE subscriptions by region (billion)

1 GSMA (October 2018)

2 Ericsson and GSMA (October 2018)

3 GSA (August 2018), supporting different regions and frequencies

4 GSMA trademark

5 GSA (September 2018)

6 GSA (August 2018)