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Voice and communication services trends and outlook

VoLTE is the foundation for enabling globally interoperable voice and communication services on 4G and 5G devices. Subscriptions are expected to reach 2.1 billion by the end of 2019.

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Key findings

  • VoLTE subscriptions are expected to reach 2.1 billion by the end of 2019, and 6.4 billion by the end of 2025.
  • VoLTE-based services have now been launched in over 200 networks and 90 countries.
  • Cellular smartwatches enabled with voice services are now available on over 80 service provider networks.
  • Video calling over LTE is now provided in around 20 networks via 395 device models.

 

Service providers continue to evolve their voice networks to VoLTE-based services. These have now been launched in more than 200 networks in over 90 countries.[1] VoLTE services are being deployed using cloud technologies, to enable cost-efficient network operations, easier capacity scaling and faster service deployment.

VoLTE subscriptions, estimated at 2.1 billion at the end of 2019, are projected to reach 6.4 billion by the end of 2025, and to account for more than 85 percent of combined LTE and 5G subscriptions. VoLTE will also be the foundation for enabling 5G voice calls, SMS and new types of communication services on various 5G devices. This will be deployed stepwise in 4G and 5G networks, using LTE-NR dual connectivity, Evolved Packet System fallback and voice over NR.

VoLTE subscriptions by region (billion)
VoLTE subscriptions are expected to reach 2.1 billion by the end of 2019.

New use case uptake and device availability

There are more than 2,500 VoLTE-enabled device models. [2]The latest models also include the most recent high-definition voice codec Enhanced Voice Services (EVS). This provides improved audio and music quality within calls on VoLTE-capable devices, including 5G smartphones, as well as better call reliability across LTE and Wi-Fi. More than 165 EVS-capable device models are available, and EVS has been deployed by 20 service providers.[3]

The first service providers have now launched voice calling capabilities on smart speakers using the same mobile phone number as on a smartphone. This builds on the VoLTE multi-device network capabilities, where several devices can be tied to the same phone number, such as phones, cellular smart watches, smart speakers and other devices. There are now more than 80 service provider networks with cellular smartwatches enabled with voice services.

Video calling over LTE (ViLTE) is now provided in around 20 networks, and there are 395 device models[4] available.

Other services based on VoLTE include additional phone lines on the same phone, group 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 AR and VR, and interactive calling.

[1] - GSA (Oct 2019)
[2] - GSA (Oct 2019), supporting different regions and frequencies
[3] - GSA (Oct 2019)
[4] - GSA (Oct 2019)