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Mobile network operators (MNOs) are currently going all out to introduce voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) calling capabilities, enabling users to place calls over 4G networks – but research from Amdocs suggests overall confidence in the technology may be somewhat misplaced.
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In the US-based supplier’s latest State of the Radio Access Network (RAN) report, Amdocs highlighted a need for MNOs to optimise their access networks to cope with the twin demands of VoLTE services and mobile broadband.
Based on an analysis of 25 million voice and data connections on 80 different MNOs worldwide, Amdocs claimed that VoLTE call drops were four to five times higher than calls on 2G or 3G networks.
“VoLTE is an important and strategic service for operators as it offers operating expense (opex) and capital expense (capex) reductions through the promise of repurposing 2G and 3G services,” it said.
“However, this study suggests that the quality of experience VoLTE provides initially, post-deployment, can be less stable than the traditional voice service it replaces, requiring aggressive tuning by the operator.”
MNOs will also be able to better optimise their networks by offloading more data traffic onto Wi-Fi, said Amdocs. With mobile data volumes growing by about 60% every year, and less than 20% of that transiting Wi-Fi, the report highlighted an obvious opportunity to realise cost and network efficiencies by bulking up Wi-Fi offerings, particularly in urban areas, where 75% of network traffic is in-building.
It also looked at large-scale events, such as rock concerts or football matches, and found that although the general public generally caused huge spikes in usage, international roamers tended to upload 50% more data, but saw a lower quality of service.
“There is an opportunity for operators to realise greater monetisation of services by isolating profitable international roamers, understanding their distinct usage patterns, and optimising the network to target them better,” the report said.
Ann Hatchell, Amdocs’ head of network marketing, said the State of the RAN report reinforced the sheer strain that mobile networks are under.
“Service providers need to deliver a first-class network experience when and where it matters most,” she said. “By leveraging the power of RAN software, service providers gain operational efficiencies and improved service agility with a centralised supplier-neutral approach.
“This allows them to optimise quality of experience, even in times of network congestion, and build better relationships with high-value customers.”