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Voice over LTE outlook

The Ericsson Mobility Report June 2017 highlights that the number of VoLTE subscriptions continues to grow, and is expected to exceed 540 million by the end of 2017.


Key highlights

  • VoLTE subscriptions expected to reach 4.6 billion in 2022
  • There are currently more than 1,000 VoLTE-enabled device models
  • Use cases with VoLTE calls for IoT (Cat-M1) are starting to develop

VoLTE has now been launched in more than 100 networks in 55 countries. Based on recent measurements in operator networks, a stronger growth than anticipated has resulted in a significant upward adjustment of our forecast. The number of VoLTE subscriptions is now projected to reach 4.6 billion by the end of 2022, making up more than 90 percent of all LTE subscriptions globally.

The network measurements show uneven uptake across regions. In the US, Japan, South Korea and Canada, VoLTE uptake was very strong in 2016, with most networks having more than 60 percent of voice calls on LTE smartphones provisioned using VoLTE. In some networks this figure was close to 80 percent.

In Europe, the service is used by fewer people, as many launched networks still require subscribers to configure VoLTE themselves in the device settings, or to buy a special VoLTE subscription. Past launches of the service demonstrate that for VoLTE usage to take off, automatic operator provisioning is necessary. In these circumstances, the VoLTE penetration then quickly rises to the percentage of LTE smartphones that are VoLTE-enabled. Due to launches in China and India, more affordable VoLTE devices will be available sooner than expected.

VoLTE foundation for communication services

VoLTE technology is the foundation for communication services on any device over LTE, Wi-Fi and 5G.

VoLTE is delivered via the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and enables operators to offer high-quality, simultaneous voice and LTE data services on smartphones and other devices. Additional IMS-based consumer and enterprise communication services include: HD voice, HD voice+ and music within calls (new voice codec Enhanced Voice Services (EVS)), video communication, IP messaging and evolution to chat bots, content sharing within calls, multi-device and new service innovations.

There are currently more than 1,000 VoLTE-enabled device models, supporting different regions and frequencies.2

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. Over 50 Wi-Fi calling networks have been launched in more than 30 countries.3

Use cases with VoLTE calls for IoT (Cat-M1) are starting to develop, extending mobile voice service capabilities to the emerging IoT device ecosystem.

VoLTE technology will also be used as the foundation for enabling current and new communication services in 5G networks.

Graph: Volte subscriptions by region

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

2 GSA (April 2017)

3 GSMA (March 2017)