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Smart speakers gain volume as VoLTE set for 140% growth over next five years

Research shows products such as Amazon Echo and Google Nest will drive voice over LTE market growth

A new study from Juniper Research has revealed that the global number of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) users will approach five billion by 2024 – up three billion from its current total.

Looking at what would be likely to drive this growth, research, Mobile voice: Emerging opportunities for operators & vendors 2019-2024, identified smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Nest, as a hugely complementary technology for VoLTE, enabling IP-based voice services. The study forecasts that more than 220 million smart speakers will be used to make calls to landlines or mobile phone numbers by 2024.

Smart speakers are seen as being able to support new engagement channels that operators can offer to brands and enterprises. The research forecasts that the number of smart speaker voice minutes to phone numbers will grow by more than 1,000% over the next five years to represent 230 billion minutes of voice use globally by 2024.

The research also predicts that VoLTE networks will increasingly be used to direct mobile calls to smart speakers. Juniper urges mobile operators to support these emerging services by using mobile phone numbers as unique identifiers to enable calls to be directed to the correct smart speaker user. It predicts that users will link incoming traffic to both their smartphone and smart speakers simultaneously.

The research also identifies communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) as key to the distribution of emerging voice services. It found that developing voice technologies, such as interactive voice response (IVR) and voice bots, will be essential components of successful CPaaS platforms by offering additional communication channels.

Yet for all these positives, the research also forecasts that operators’ revenue from voice services is likely to fall from $380bn in 2019 to $210bn in 2024, mainly because of increasing usage of over-the-top (OTT) apps such as WhatsApp and Viber.

In response, Juniper recommends that operators sign partnerships with CPaaS suppliers to allow access to their mobile subscribers for voice and messaging services as a strategy to mitigate declining revenue.

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