Asia-Pacific to lead the way for mobile VoLTE
The Asia-Pacific region is forecast to make up three quarters of new mobile voice over LTE, or VoLTE, subscribers this year, predicts Infonetics Research.
The strength of Asia-Pacific growth, particularly in Korea, prompted Infonetics to revise its VoLTE forecast for 2013. The firm now expects that 12 commercial VoLTE networks will be deployed and 8 million subscribers will be signed up by year's end.
Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom is leading the way, signing up 3.6 million VoLTE subscribers just in April. The carrier announced recently that it had deployed the world's first LTE-Advanced service for smartphones. The LTE-A service offers speeds up to 150 Mbps, two times faster than LTE and 10 times faster than 3G.
Infonetics projects the number of VoLTE subscribers to increase at a 145 percent compound annual growth rate through 2017. VoLTE and over-the-top, or OTT, mobile VoIP together are expected to become a $16 billion business by 2017.
The number of OTT mobile VoIP subscribers increased more than 550 percent last year, and is expected to approach 1 billion subscribers this year. Roughly 40 percent of the OTT mobile VoIP services used Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Skype in 2012.
Not everyone is gung-ho about VoLTE, however. Earlier this year, Ovum analyst Jeremy Green advised mobile operators to slow down their rollout of VoLTE because there are still service and supply issues to work out.
"While there are some questions about how to provide voice services during the interim period when the LTE network sits alongside legacy 3G and even 2G networks, there is general agreement that the ultimate destination is a solution based on the IP multimedia subsystem, which is now designated as VoLTE--'voice over LTE'," Green wrote in a blog.
Green advised mobile operators to stay engaged but not rush into VoLTE deployment.