Why cloud-native VoLTE is your next big transition

The advantages and benefits of VoLTE are well-known and sufficiently proven. It is a mature technology that has had time to overcome the difficulties it faced in its early days a decade ago. However, as of today, more than half of the world's connections, according to GSMA data, still do not exploit the full potential of VoLTE.
Our new white paper, Cloud-native VoLTE: an Enabler for Flexible Network Evolution, that we co-authored with the GSMA’s Mobile World Live editorial team, explores how a strategic VoLTE deployment can drive Communication service providers’ (CSPs) digital transformation goals. It also looks at how this can help them transition to a cloud-native infrastructure.
Here are some of the key aspects:

VoLTE – Higher quality voice services

Voice is still vital. During 2020, voice traffic increased by 24.3% across the US. This increase was sustained throughout 2021 and beyond. In other words, users continue to demand voice services. CSPs must offer it to their customers if they want to continue to compete in the market.

Voice over LTE, VoLTE/IMS, is a solution to provide high-quality voice services over 4G and 5G networks. It also allows – via IMS Centralised Services – compatibility with legacy 2G and 3G networks. In this way, operators can guarantee service continuity even while these legacy networks are no longer operational.

In addition, it is worth remembering that there are still certain obligations that CSPs must fulfil in order to satisfy their licensing requirements, and this includes voice functionality. They must ensure users can contact emergency services. This feature must include adequate network coverage, reliability, and call quality.

So-called over-the-top applications can’t meet these universal service obligations. These are services offered via the Internet, such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime. They are usually delivered in conjunction with third parties. They also have no support for emergency calls and no quality guarantees. Critically, they rely on all users signing up for the same app.

VoLTE – the best route from legacy to 5G

Exciting new 5G services such as edge computing and network slicing show how rapidly the communications space can evolve to enable new revenue streams. (However, 5G is not still viable enough to encourage CSPs to fully invest in providing full coverage or deploy 5G Core.) To compete for the revenue opportunities generated by these advances, many network operators are planning (or have already actioned) the switch-off of their 2G and 3G networks from 2025, to enable massive expansion of
LTE and 5G through refarming.

The sunsetting of 2G/3G networks will free up sub-6GHz spectrum, including the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies currently reserved for 2G, and the 2100 MHz frequency used for 3G. This will reduce network complexity and maintenance. It will also allow CSPs to extend their 4G and 5G coverage. 

But getting there will require careful management. Most devices and network providers now support 4G VoLTE. However, the use of Circuit Switched FallBack (CSFB) for voice calls over 3G is still significant, especially for emergency call scenarios. In many parts of the world, it is essential. The governing industry body, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), has approved certain standards for 5G services. These do not include provisions for CSFB. This makes VoLTE the default voice solution in all current and near-future 5G network deployments. Due to VoLTE’s backwards compatibility with 2G and 3G, it has become a necessary bridging technology.

Cloud-native IMS and VoLTE – reliable, flexible, agile

VoLTE services rely on IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture. This allows the delivery of IP-based multimedia services to both fixed and mobile users. These include voice, video, text, and supplementary services (e.g., call barring, message waiting, and conferencing functions).

IMS architecture is also the foundation for emerging technologies such as 5G VoNR. This means any investment in IMS infrastructure will be protected as a result of additional value and revenue streams later on, as services such as VoNR and additional 5G use cases (3GPP TR22.873) become more widely adopted.

Layered IMS architecture is more flexible than traditional monolithic communications network architecture. This makes it an ideal fit for cloud-native deployments. It allows CSPs to reduce their hardware footprint and avoid vendor hardware lock-ins.

With a cloud-native IMS instance, on-demand delivery of compute, storage, database, and network resources can be scaled up or down almost instantly. This leads to significant improvements in operational efficiency. Services like VoLTE can also be
integrated as incremental components on a pay-per-use basis.

Containerisation and microservices

Cloud-native IMS architecture lends itself well to a containerisation approach. Different functions are operated as separate microservices within containers. These containers can then be managed using open-source management platforms such as Kubernetes. This enables them to function “cloud-agnostic” across bare-metal, public, or private/telco cloud environments.

Containerisation also allows multiple applications to run simultaneously on the same server. This brings cost and performance benefits. It also allows for further optimisation opportunities. Individual microservices can be scaled up and down according to user needs. 

Pivoting your IT development activities to a containerisation approach involves building, testing, and deploying microservices independently. This shift brings benefits such as faster development cycles and a shorter time to market. It also helps reduce the risk and impact of human error.

JSC Ingenium VoLTE solution

The JSC VoLTE solution is created according to Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Best Practices. It eliminates any dependency on your chosen underlying cloud platform. 

Our VoLTE system is managed using Kubernetes, offering flexible scalability. It can handle a minimum provision of 30 calls per second or scale up to accommodate several million simultaneous busy-hour calls.

A robust versioning system enables Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) and facilitates automation. It builds reliability and consistency across environments and promotes vendor and CSP collaboration. It also improves the speed and efficiency of delivery.

Would you like to know how CSPs are leveraging cloud-native IMS and VoLTE to aid their digital transformation? We recommend you download our white paper to learn more about:
  • which cloud-native IMS deployment is best for you,
  • how cloud-native IMS architecture works, and
  • how JSC Ingenium’s VoLTE solution has helped three major global carriers rapidly adapt to their new business needs.

Cloud-native VoLTE: an Enabler for Flexible Network Evolution

13 July 2023, JSC Ingenium / Mobile World Live

This white paper has been published by Mobile World Live, one of the premier destinations for news, insight and intelligence for the global mobile industry, in partnership with JSC Ingenium.
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