BICS demos end-to-end VoLTE between SK Telecom and Proximus

Metaratings
25 Aug 2015
00:00
Article

ITEM: Global wholesale carrier BICS said on Tuesday it had completed “the world’s first fully E2E [end to end] VoLTE international call” between South Korean operator SK Telecom and Belgian operator Proximus.

BICS billed the trial as an “important milestone” that will offer subscribers in both countries “the ability to exchange high definition, low latency, next generation enhanced voice services carried over the IPX networks of BICS and SK Telink” (SK Telecom’s international carrier services division).

However, the call was a VoLTE interworking trial rather than a roaming trial – which means that the SK Telecom subscriber and Proximus subscriber each initiated VoLTE calls from their respective home networks.

According to Divya Wakankar, Head of Innovation and LTE Product Management at BICS, SK Telecom and Proximus agreed on a comprehensive list of inter-working tests, including:

  • End-to-end VoLTE calls between the SK Telecom and Proximus networks, initiated from the LTE/IMS networks of either of the two operators
  • VoLTE to non-VoLTE 3G and 2G voice calls initiated from the LTE/IMS network to a 3G or 2G network on either of the two operators
  • Non-VoLTE 3G and 2G voice calls to VoLTE initiated from the LTE/IMS network on a 3G or 2G network, on either of the two operators.

“The scope of the trial included testing the different LTE/IMS network interfaces between the two mobile operators,” she told telecomasia.net.

“The trial shows improved PDD [post-dial delay] of no more than two seconds – which is an extremely low ear-to-mouth delay – and better voice quality with high definition AMR wideband codecs usage, and noise cancellation effect," she said.

BICS says the trial demonstrates the feasibility, attraction and benefits of quality international VoLTE. It also served as a showcase of BICS’ IPX VoLTE Hub, which was used to facilitate the trial. From the press release:

IPX VoLTE Hub provides end-to-end solutions for international VoLTE interworking and roaming. IPX VoLTE Hub is empowered with intelligent routing, commercial transparency, protocol normalisation and media transcoding capabilities, which are vital in maintaining the high definition sound quality of VoLTE voice calls.

Spokespersons from SK Telecom and Proximus talked up the importance of offering international VoLTE.

Jin-Hyo Park, senior VP and Head of Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom, said in a statement: “International VoLTE provides the best in class voice quality demanded by customers already enjoying the service domestically.”

Laurent Claus, director of Services Platforms & Cloud at Proximus: “Providing exceptional quality of experience to customers is of paramount importance to us, and launching International VoLTE was the next logical step we needed to take to enhance our voice offering.”

Jorn Vercamert, VP of BICS’ voice business, said that the company expects VoLTE usage to increase in 2015 and 2016 as end users “begin to enjoy the superior quality communication in conjunction with high speed data usage.”

VoLTE is certainly poised for prime time, although just 25 operators currently offer domestic VoLTE services commercially as of late July, according to the Global mobile Suppliers Association. That’s expected to grow quickly in the next couple of years.

The next step – and potentially bigger challenge – is VoLTE roaming. LG U+ and KDDI launched the world’s first – and so far only – commercial VoLTE roaming service for voice and video calls in April. There have also been trials – NTT DoCoMo, KT and Verizon Wireless said they completed “feasibility tests of VoLTE roaming in a commercial environment” earlier this year, with DoCoMo adding it plans to launch commercial VoLTE roaming later this year. BICS is currently trialing VoLTE roaming with ten operators.

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