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Is LTE being Held Hostage by Ordinary Voice Telephony?

Dean Bubley, Founder, Disruptive Analysis

Date: Thursday, October 29

Time: 12:15 - 12:35 PM

Location: Transformatorhuis

Despite the hype around LTE deployments, the technology faces a serious problem: what to do with voice? As it is an all-IP radio technology, any telephony will *have* to be be a form of VoIP. Unsurprisingly, mobile operators want to control it in-house, rather than cede control to 3rd-party Internet voice providers. But it needs to work flawlessly, including in scenarios where it is fully-mobile and capable of roaming, both on the network and device sides. Not only that, but SMS must also be supported, as it is commonly used in mobile broadband for device management and other operational applications.

But although the Voice-on-LTE issue has been known for at least three years, it still remains mired in controversy and fragmentation. Some vendors and the standards community would like to use LTE as an excuse to force operators to finally implement IMS, although many retain serious doubts about its cost, complexity and relevance to a Web 2.0 world. An "interim" solution, forcing "fallback" to circuit calls over 2G or 3G has some serious flaws. Other solutions like those proposed by the VoLGA forum or certain vendors have merit, but are arriving late in the day. Maybe it's easier just to run Skype or Google Voice over a 4G pipe? Or perhaps this will delay LTE's deployment altogether, especially for "phones" rather than data-centric devices?

This presentation lays out the problems, the potential solutions - and delves into some of the politics. It considers networks, devices, voice applications and business models, in the context of the needs of the *user* as much as the operator.

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