Communication has undergone some major changes within the past century and even more so within the past few decades. The definition of the word "communication" seems to be more of a fluid term than one that's fixed. In the past, you would simply pick up the house phone to get in contact with someone. In 2007, Steve Jobs changed everything when he introduced the ground-breaking and revolutionary iPhone.
Even though smartphones have become the norm, the word "communication" still spans a wide range of meanings. Some people still think of traditional phone calls. For others, this term produces images of video conferencing. There are even people who include social media, text messaging, email, and other various forms of media within their definition of communication.
Enterprise users take a different approach to this term altogether. For this group, "communication" is how employees figure out how to work smarter each day. It's a battle to operate efficiently in a world that demands constant productivity. Results reign supreme and working in the office isn't sufficient anymore. It's how different people are able to communicate effectively in order to establish relationships with partners and customers.
However, all of this is only as impactful as the technologies which help to accomplish it all. Essentially, this is one of the reasons why VoLTE and other related concepts are so important. What exactly is VoLTE? Why should you care? How is it going to affect VoIP? Let's explore some potential answers to these important questions.
What is VoLTE?
Since VoLTE is interrelated with some technology that preceded it, it's important to start from the beginning in order to understand why this new tech matters. VoIP stands for voice over Internet protocol. It's a method of communication that's designed to offer multimedia and voice communications via Internet protocol networks. The Internet is perhaps the most obvious and prolifically used example.
For many decades, the only voice services got delivered through a public telephone network. This was essentially the analog services that a majority of people used in their offices and homes. This standard solution worked fine for many years while there were no viable alternatives. After a while, however, it became clear that some of the service's inherent issues were too big to ignore.
Businesses faced the brunt of these issues. It was quite difficult to add traditional phone lines. As a result, businesses had a hard time keeping their communication capabilities in proportion to their growing business. Adding lines was expensive but necessary as new employees were added to the mix. Mobility was also a major issue.
When employees needed to take a call on a business number, they had to remain sitting at their desks. If the call arrived when the person was away from their desk, the call was lost. Voice forwarding and a number of other solutions were installed, but these remedies were more of a hindrance than a help.
A traditional phone system also suffered from horrible fragility. Services were fickle and could easily be interrupted. Inclement weather made it hard to take calls consistently. Perhaps most importantly, these outdated phone systems made it nearly impossible to embrace and implement new features as they came around. For example, voicemail capabilities were an utter hassle to add to traditional lines. This addition required the purchase and installation of new and expensive equipment.
VoIP was ushered in to help address some of these major issues. First and foremost, this technology is much easier to implement, maintain, and configure when compared to traditional lines. Additional support for new users can be accomplished instantly, making it easier for companies to bring on new employees. There aren't any wires or extra phone lines that have to be installed. The entire process is much quicker, easier, and more simplistic overall. All of this is accomplished without reducing the quality of the service itself. In fact, it's improved.
Due to this simplicity of installation and maintenance, it's easy to scale VoIP up and down with the normal fluctuations of a business. Companies don't have to risk spending massive amounts on equipment that doesn't end up getting used due to poor growth predictions.
To make the deal even sweeter, a vast range of call features can be supported through this system. Voice services, voice-messaging, SMS text messaging, and even faxing is supported. Each medium is offered via the public Internet. This helps companies achieve the ever-present goal of having one solution for their communication needs without having to spend exorbitant amounts of money.
While these features are great, mobility is one of the most important advantages of VoIP for users. Employees who work with a business that takes advantage of this system of communication, their telephone number never leaves their side. Employees no longer have to be tied to their desks in order to get work done. This leads to more flexibility and productivity overall.
If you happen to be at your desk when a call arrives, you can easily take it via traditional methods. However, VoIP now offers you the opportunity to take a call while you're on the run. It's the epitome of flexibility.
Even if you're in an airport on the other side of the world about to catch a flight, you can take an incoming call from that same business number. All you have to do is have your laptop on and connected to a reliable Internet connection. Fortunately, gratis WiFi is available everywhere in the 21st century.
In summary, VoIP technology represented a massive leap forward when it comes to communication. It took communication abilities into the 21st century and blazed a path forward that is still being improved upon. VoIP showed a glimpse of what was possible and we're still trying to see where that leads.
Now that you understand the massive implications that VoIP had on the communications industry, it's time to introduce the next wave of innovation: VoLTE. People are talking about VoLTE with the same vigor and excitement that surrounded VoIP. It's about time that people take notice.
How does VoLTE work?
VoLTE stands for voice over long-term evolution. It's a recent standard for wireless, high-speed communication for data terminals and mobile phones. In contrast to VoIP which spans several devices, VoLTE is only available on mobile systems. For example, you would need to have a high-speed Internet connection in order to use VoIP in your office.
Since most companies currently use that type of technology, it's not a problematic requirement. However, VoLTE has taken things a step further through the use of voice calls that are sent over 4G LTE networks. These are the same towers that your smartphone is most likely using right now.
BI Intelligence and IoT Ecosystem
It's also important to understand that VoLTE supports wearable technology like the Apple Watch. Other devices connected to the Internet of Things are also supported. A recent study by Intel predicts that the IoT will encompass over 200 billion devices around the world by 2020. Business Insider released an equally telling study that predicts the total spending on solutions related to IoT will reach $6 trillion by 2021.
It's likely that the IoT will infiltrate nearly every device and sector including tablets, smartphones, manufacturing machines, industrial sensors, point-of-sale systems, and a lot, lot more. This is in addition to the massive number of devices geared towards the B2C market. The very design of VoLTE has the potential to turn every single one into a platform for communication in the 21st century.
Why does VoLTE matter to VoIP?
Don't fall into the trap of considering VoLTE as a replacement for technologies and concepts similar to VoIP. We should rather be viewing this technology as a further surge forward for the gains that have already been proven to be fruitful.
VoLTE has become famous for its superior call quality. This is perhaps the largest and most important advantage offered by this technology. More info and data is transferrable over 4G connections when compared to 3G or even 2G connections. With VoLTE, users are essentially able to get HD call features each and every time. This high-level call quality is especially important for businesses that need to be able to pick up on the smallest inflections and intonations in order to build relationships successfully. This feature alone is enough for some people to make the switch to VoLTE. After all, businesses can be built on great communication and destroyed because of poor communication.
The improved connectivity and coverage capabilities offered by VoLTE are equally impressive. It's possible to use this service no matter where you're located on Earth, so long as you have a cellular connection. Even when you're in a location that doesn't have 4G connection yet, the service will automatically revert to 3G or 2G connections. The best part is that the connection will go towards the fastest signal. In addition, VoLTE is capable of connecting calls nearly twice as fast when compared to current methods.
Another major advantage that VoLTE has over VoIP technology is that users can simultaneously make data and voice calls. In the past, data couldn't be transmitted through a network while it was being used for a voice call. If attempted, the data would transmit at much slower speeds - typically at 2G or 3G. VoLTE eliminates this problem by allowing voice and data calls to go through the same network at a fast pace.
If you need to send documents or images while you're on a conference call, VoLTE makes this possible. In the past, you would have had to end the call, transfer the data, and then call again after the information had been sent. This hassle a thing of the past with VoLTE technology. Companies can send countless amounts of data without having to worry about disrupting their calls. This gives employees more flexibility and makes it easier to make changes on the fly.
Battery life is another major improvement that VoLTE brings to the table. Since phones have to switch less between 4G, 3G, and 2G connections throughout a call, the battery life can be extended to greater durations. Employees who are out and about during the day will love this feature. Nobody wants to feel forced to stay near an outlet just to keep their device charged enough to make calls.
What are the mobile implications?
Don't forget that VoLTE has been designed with the future in mind rather than where we are in the present. There's a good reason why this remains a mobile-only service. The Pew Research Center conducted a recent study that found an estimated 77% of Americans own some sort of smartphone. On the other hand, broadband service declined steeply from 2013 to 2015, particularly when being used in the home. A statistic that's perhaps even more relevant to the discussion is that around 20% of Americans no longer use broadband in their homes but do use smartphones, as of 2018. This number is up from 12% in 2016. It's a clear indication of where we're headed in the next few years, and VoLTE is a reflection of that trend
It's not too hard to conceive of a future in which most people access the internet from a mobile device or smartphone through a cellular connection. At this point, it's safe to assume that it's no longer a question of "if" that day will arrive. Instead, it's a question of "when" it will arrive. Whenever this time does come, VoLTE will overtake VoIP as the dominant form of communication, especially in the business sector.
There are many people who will turn away from VoLTE since the coverage is restricted to 4G networks. While this restriction was an initial problem for early users, it's become less of an issue over time. One recent study from 2018 suggested that the average American can access a 4G network over 90% of the time. This number is only expected to increase in the coming years. This improvement mitigates risk and ensures that more and more people gain access to and embrace the 4G future.
VoLTE is still a young technology. In fact, the first commercial service was only launched in 2014 in Singapore. Due to the technology's relatively young age, there are some inherent limitations with which VoIP users might have to contend. As mentioned before, VoLTE is currently restricted to mobile devices. This means that neither the recipient or the caller can be connected to a 3G or 2G network. 4G LTE networks on the only ones that support this new technology. While this problem isn't as big of a deal as it used to be, it's understandable why some users still take issue with it.
Unfortunately, many providers of VoLTE tech offer only a small range of services. This is in contrast with VoIP providers who have a lot of diverse offers even when it comes to standard packages. However, one look at the list of advantages that VoLTE has over older technologies is a reassuring sign that this development will only flourish in the years to come. In comparison to VoIP options, VoLTE offers a longer battery life, better call quality, and improved connectivity and coverage.
Everyone can be excited about what VoLTE has to offer in the near future. Businesses and employees, in particular, can benefit in a lot of ways from these developments. When you also realize the upcoming changes which devices are posed to undergo within the next decade or so, it's clear why people around the world are excited to see what VoLTE can bring in the future.