Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is shaking up communications as we know it, and a new study from Juniper Research is showing us just how far that shakeup is likely to go. By 2020, the study suggests, there will be over two billion VoLTE connections out there, and that's going to leave mobile providers scrambling to adapt.
Two billion is an impressive number, but it's the rate of progression that's even more noteworthy. In 2015, that number was estimated to be at 123 million, so we're talking here about a jump of over 15-fold in just five years. This huge jump is driven in part by huge improvements in voice quality, spurring users to take advantage of the technology. HD Voice is also set to grow in this time frame, thanks to the overall accessibility of the technology, and the need to offer it just to stay competitive. When even Facebook Messenger offers free HD voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calling services, clearly there's precedent for everyone else to justify offering it.
Interestingly, over half of the global VoLTE market will be located in the Far East and China region by 2020—a fact likely driven by the sheer numbers of mobile users in said region—and VoLTE services will mean over $100 billion in annual service revenue by then as well. While adoption rates will be limited at first, the increased availability of handsets that can use VoLTE will help spur on growth.
With LTE connectivity more available, and more handsets able to accommodate VoLTE, it makes sense that the usage is going to explode. In that explosion, however, providers will take some collateral damage. They’ll face a loss of revenue from voice traffic and a greater strain on already-overtaxed mobile data networks. That's going to be a problem for many providers, but as infrastructure building focuses less on voice networks and more on data, the problem may ultimately right itself as providers put all their resources into one kind of network.
In the end, with all these new VoLTE connections set to come on line so quickly, preparations need to be made to accommodate this growing user base. Failure to do so may well result in a lot of churn and some big gains for companies who do make the preparations.