The world’s first commercial voice over LTE (VoLTE) services have been launched in South Korea and the US, with product and services support from Ericsson.

At the beginning of August 2012, VoLTE services were launched in South Korea by SK Telecom and LG U+, the country’s largest and third-largest telecom operators respectively, and MetroPCS pioneered the services in the US.

Before the launches, telecom operators had only used LTE networks for data, and 2G or 3G networks for voice services.

"I congratulate all these operators on this great achievement," says Johan Wibergh, Head of Business Unit Networks at Ericsson. "Telecom grade telephony is going all-IP over commercial mobile broadband LTE networks for the first time. This is a historic moment in the telecom industry.

"We see increasing operator interest in VoLTE globally, and we expect broader market take-off in 2013."

Ericsson has supported SK Telecom, LG U+ and MetroPCS in the launches by supplying products and services, and will continue to support the three operators to further expand and improve their VoLTE-related consumer services.

Ericsson’s end-to-end VoLTE solution portfolio comprises IMS including MTAS (Multimedia Telephony Application Server), Evolved Packet Core (EPC), LTE Radio Access Network, OSS and services. For VoLTE interworking with legacy networks, the portfolio also includes support in GSM/WCDMA RAN, Mobile Softswitch Solution, EPC and the CDMA core portfolio. The Ericsson RCS (Rich Communication Suite) solution provides a complement to enhancing communication services.

Ericsson also collaborates closely with major device and chipset vendors on interoperability testing toward the company’s products and solutions, to ensure commercial readiness of VoLTE devices and networks globally.

With VoLTE as a basis, consumers will be able to enjoy telecom-grade HD voice, video calling and other new richer communication services on LTE smartphones. This gives operators a comprehensive set of globally standardized, telecom grade quality services to combine with high-speed mobile broadband services.

These services use a regular mobile-phone (MSISDN or Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network) number, and VoLTE brings the operator telephony values into an all-IP mobile-broadband network: global interoperability, QoS, roaming and seamless mobility between any mobile devices, over any access technology. With VoLTE, both voice and LTE data services can be used simultaneously on LTE smartphones. Running VoLTE is also more spectral efficient compared to running voice over 2G or 3G, which provides an opportunity for better radio resources utilization when deploying mobile broadband.

See further information about these operator launches in their respective press releases: