The strangest of all press releases slid out quietly at Mobile World Congress two weeks ago. The GSMA informed us of a new initiative to set the standard for voice calls on 4G mobile networks. GSMA VoLTE initiative trumpets a "single implementation for voice", covering roaming, fallback to older networks when LTE is not …
It's like a comedy sketch.
"It's got 4G connectivity. You can go on Myspace, Facebook.."
"But does it do phone calls?"
"..over fifty gajillion apps from cooking guides to tour guides.."
"But what about phone calls?"
"..WIFI connectivity, Bluetooth, it even has an IR link.."
"I JUST WANT TO MAKE CALLS."
"..what? Then why are you in a mobile phone shop? Go get two cups and a string, Mr I-Want-To-Make-Phone-Calls. I mean.. phone calls. How quaint!"
Insert Title Here
Hitler was right to be concerned:
Following Apple's lead
Seems this idea of leaving Voice as an after thought was pioneered by Apple with the iPhone.
Don't forget the N900
Also Nokia, with the N900, clearly added phone calls as an after thought. But anyway, when I've got data connection and a SIP client, who needs a phone?
MS /never/ had good support in Windows Mobile (WinCE, whatever).
Who would have guessed they were so advanced?
Time to dig in the loft for my first WM phone, it's bleeding edge now.
I know, they could re-re-re-re-re-re-re-brand it Windows Mini or WiMi for short. Is that more catchy?
"We don't sell any gramophones in here Grandad."
"what's that then"
"That's a belt-drive semi-automatic turntable unless I've very much mistaken."
(from a classic Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch for the youth. It's probably on you tube or some new fangled thing)
You want woofers and tweeters?
Slimline salad dressing?
A Dumb Pipe for Skype
Hmm. Won't this make it a de facto Monopoly. A single world wide carrier on a propriety protocol, so they will be able to charge what they like.
as long as there is no cartel
with different carriers there will still be competition and choice - though hopefully price fixing cartels won't be allowed to flourish (though we know they'll lobby respective Govts, make a few donations and the overseers will be too busy enjoying all expense fact finding trips to write and reports)
the great thing is finally the days of different GSM / 3G bands will be behind us (and don't talk about GSM vs CDMA) and every phone will work wherever you are (so you can be ripped blind by roaming charges)
Reminds me of this old nugget
There were once four members of a project team: Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No-one
Like all projects there are some important tasks to do. Everyone was really busy and was sure that Someone had more time to do most of these tasks, but Someone thought Anyone could do them.
However Anyone couldn't do them, and so unless Anyone made Someone realise that Someone was the best person to do those jobs, Everyone ended up allocating the jobs to No-one.
Sadly No-one wasn't very good at getting these jobs done, so the result was a disaster, which impacted Everyone.
Everyone ended up angry with Someone, because Everyone knew that Someone could do the jobs better better than No-one
Nice to see the modern thinkers are on-line
What makes you think they forgot?
Let's look at the history: first we had analogue mobile, which allowed people to make phone calls without a wire; then we got GSM which meant that we could actually make calls in a consistent way around the world (and had a bit more security than analogue). Then along came 3G to provide 'true data capability', but instead was used mostly for voice until we got decent rates with HSPA 5 years later.
So, today we have GSM with 99% coverage for VOICE, 3G with 60-80% VOICE coverage (depending on how you look at it), and 3G with 60% or less DATA coverage. Now mobile operators are facing a big challenge on DATA, since people realised they can and want to stream pr0n in their bedrooms on their mobiles. And the problem is only going to get worse (the data challenge, not the pr0n).
Enter LTE, whose biggest feature is the chance to have **up to** greater than 100 Mbps in a cell (no-one ever talks about voice capacity in LTE)
So the reality is
- you have nearly 100% voice coverage already (on well proven, robust and long ago paid for hardware)
- voice capacity is not a problem on >90% of the existing network
- you've got a major data challenge around the corner.
a) invest in a high-speed, high-capacity data only overlay network and slowly replace your trusted voice network once you have sufficient coverage and confidence, or
b) invest today a few billion extra to install a new IP-based voice network that isn't needed and still won't give you near 80% population coverage for over 5 years?
Most early observers and stakeholders have considered the first option the best, so LTE was designed to be a data network in the first instance, with an upgrade path to IP voice. It's not that anybody forgot, it's just not needed now.
p.s. you can always use a VoIP client (e.g. Skype) on top of the data only network if it really matters that much to you.
p.p.s. Have you seen the LTE terminals on offer today and near future? Not really pocket sized unless you have very big pockets (except for the USB sticks, and they don't have a keypad, speaker or screen).
... plus a little bit of 'steering' by the Vendors
Plus I suspect that for the equipment vendors having the operators pay them license fees for the subscribers on both their old GSM and shiny new 4G network was just the thing needed to boost revenues. I suspect VOLTE is ultimnately being pushed by the operators now that they realise they don't want to have to spend on maintaining 2/3 networks with license fees for subscribers on each when one could do ...!
You could make exactly the same data-only argument for 3G over GSM. Why bother with voice on 3G. It's because that's what phones do. With more bandwidth you could have significantly better sound quality.
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