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Why VoLTE is still a “Boring Old Phone Call”
December 2nd, 2016

Why VoLTE is still a “Boring Old Phone Call”

Hailee Franco

How many times in the last year have you heard a company say their latest product or service was the “future of (insert tech term) technology?” How many times was the company right?Most companies toda...

How many times in the last year have you heard a company say their latest product or service was the “future of (insert tech term) technology?” How many times was the company right?

Most companies today add a new feature to already existing tech and act as if they reinvented the wheel. When all they did was add a shiny feature you don’t need to something that worked fine to begin with.

This is what telecom companies did when they released the “future of mobile voice technology”, VoLTE. They took voice calling and added an IP feature that allows calls to be made using 4G LTE, instead of 2G and 3G networks. Ground break stuff right?

The truth is that this technology, which may have been useful seven years ago, came far too late to be a voice communication game changer.

Why VoLTE won’t change the communication game

Well, the biggest reason is that it is still just a boring old telephone call. Many services exist, VoIP among them, that allow users to make calls, send SMS, fax, and even video chat. VoLTE is not one of them. It is exactly what the name says it is, voice over LTE. It sends voice calls on an LTE network but only works if the phone receiving the call supports the service.

This is not to say it doesn’t have certain benefits. VoLTE provides a way for voice and data to work on 4G simultaneously and, although a minor benefit, offers faster call setup times.

These few benefits alone are not enough to justify the cost of implementation. It is extremely expensive and complicated for a business to implement. Not only that but most VoLTE networks don’t interoperate, severely limiting who users can call using the service. Call quality is another “benefit” claimed by VoLTE providers, but 3G has offered HD capabilities for years.

The fact of the matter is that people are not making as many voice calls as they use to. In 2014, the United States saw a 6.2% percent drop in voice calls. I would suspect this trend will continue, as other, less expensive ways to communicate become commonplace in the market. We are already seeing a shift to third-party apps like WhatsApp and Skype for individuals and a move to VoIP services in the business world.

There is so much more to voice communication that telecom companies gave no thought to before launching VoLTE. Things like voice chat, speech-to-text, peer-to-peer, priority voice, and real-time translations are just some of the features that could have been added to create more value to VoLTE. Why? Because adding these things would have at least made the service more interesting.

To see the real future or mobile voice technology look to the Internet, mobile, and cloud-based communications, not to telecoms who think “advanced tech” is nothing more than boring old phone calls. This is most certainly not the future of mobile voice technology.

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