Telecom Timeout

Jul 19 2010   5:01PM GMT

Talking up new hope for carrier packet voice services

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

That packetized voice is the key to keeping voice services alive may be the duh statement of the decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. I know — voice is so last century that no one talks about it as a killer app. But it still is, and i t doesn’t even take much bandwidth to talk. The razzle-dazzle is about the big bandwidth for video and enterprise apps, and of course there’s social networking. But carriers can ignore next-gen voice only at their own peril.

People still talk, but voice isn’t edgy or interesting unless it’s over the top (OTT) or delivered over a 4G network that doesn’t have a circuit-switched voice channel for the first time in more than a century. That’s where the evolved packet core comes in to help enable voice over LTE, for example.

The tricky part is that service providers still have trillions tied up in the PSTN, and people still spend money to talk, so it’s financially critical to find a better path. Which brings me to my point. Telecom consultant Tom Nolle takes a hard look at the convergence of a handful of next-gen voice drivers that make voice an interesting business case for carriers: OTT competition, 4G evolution, enterprise pressure, femtocell maturation and fixed-mobile convergence.

The bottom line is that it all comes down to two basic carrier options for offering next-gen voice: using an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) framework, or adopting essentially their own OTT model of packet voice service. Since there are decisions to be made, carriers are going to need to understand their options before the over-the-top gang takes over.

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