Market Insight

RESEARCH NOTE - Voice over LTE Ramping Up: 1 Billion VoLTE Users by 2020

June 22, 2016

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IHS Technology analysis and commentary on the VoLTE Services and Subscribers Annual Market Report follows.

Bottom Line

  • 40 voice over LTE (VoLTE) commercial networks were launched worldwide in 2015, and there were as many VoLTE networks launched in the first four months of 2016 (23) as in all of 2014
  • There were 185 million VoLTE users in 2015, mostly coming from Japan, South Korea and the US, and this number is anticipated to grow to 310 million by year’s end
  • The global VoLTE user base is forecast to hit 1 billion by 2020, aided by China Mobile’s VoLTE migration

Outlook and Analysis

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is quickly ramping up, with improvements in network efficiencies and spectrum reuse as the chief drivers. According to IHS estimates and those of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), there are currently 63 VoLTE commercial networks up and running. This is a net addition of 23 VoLTE networks to the existing 40 that were online at the end of December 2015.

In each of the currently operational 63 VoLTE networks, existing subscribers become de facto VoLTE users when they upgrade their devices to LTE-capable ones. Case in point: Verizon Advanced Calling (VoLTE) is device driven. Users do not sign up for Advanced Calling, but if they buy a device that supports VoLTE, then they are on the VoLTE network. For the majority of those VoLTE networks, the service is marketed as a device feature rather than something to which a user subscribes.

There is no longer any excuse to delay VoLTE, as the VoLTE ecosystem is in place. There are currently 500 commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in the world, and every single network will eventually support VoLTE, as it is inevitable that voice will go to LTE. However, making VoLTE work perfectly with no glitches remains challenging, and service providers know they need to achieve a degree of LTE network ubiquity and then beef up their IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) infrastructures to fully support VoLTE. But in the meantime, the VoLTE frontrunners are ramping up VoLTE users.

By 2020, worldwide VoLTE service revenue is projected to reach $6.3 billion, with almost half coming from North America, where average revenue per user (ARPU) is the highest in the world. At that time, Asia Pacific will have three times more VoLTE users than North America but revenue will be 13 percent lower.

Finally, as VoLTE continues to surge worldwide, the need for roaming becomes greater, giving rise to VoLTE roaming as the next big thing to come—and fueling the debate over local breakout (LBO) versus S8 home routing (S8HR).

VoLTE Report Synopsis

The IHS Technology VoLTE Services and Subscribers Annual Market Report tracks VoLTE service revenue, subscribers and deployments, providing worldwide and regional market size, forecasts through 2020, in-depth analysis and trends. Providers tracked include AT&T, Beeline, China Mobile, KDDI, KT, LG U Plus, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Rogers, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Telefónica, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Vodafone and others.

Information about VoLTE network performance can be found in the companion IHS RootMetrics VoLTE Performance Report, which examines VoLTE voice quality, call setup times, call performance and frequency bands in the US and UK, as well as VoLTE expansion from a global perspective.

For information about purchasing these reports, contact the sales department at IHS in the Americas at +1 844 301 7334 or [email protected]; in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at +44 1344 328 300 or [email protected]; or Asia-Pacific (APAC) at +604 291 3600 or [email protected].

Research by Market
Mobile & Telecom
Mobile Networks
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