Why VoLTE success is dependent on reliable indoor coverage

After GSM and UMTS, VoLTE is the next generation in voice communications. It is without doubt the highest quality voice service on the market, however claims it will become the automatic voice service of choice rely completely on the ability of the underlying LTE service to penetrate the large number of ‘not-spots’ that still exist in both urban and rural areas. Without addressing this vital issue, actual usage of the technology will be minimal and subscribers will be unable to enjoy the significant benefits VoLTE offers such as HD voice and video calling.

The widespread launch of VoLTE will only really capture the imagination of subscribers, and provide ROI for operators, if the service is available indoors – where the vast majority of mobile phone calls are made.

As with previous generations of RF technologies, LTE signals are prevented from getting inside buildings by a range of construction materials – from stone through to reflective glass and plastic. Without the availability of high-capacity LTE signals indoors, the use of next generation services will be extremely limited as a large proportion of customers’ calls are reverted to GSM voice services.

To enable stable LTE signals indoors, operators must ensure the signal-to-noise ratio is sufficient to provide high throughput. This is best achieved using specific in-building coverage solutions such as Digital Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), which forward-thinking operators and facilities managers have already installed in a range of venues suffering from poor cellular provision.

DAS systems are VoLTE-ready and have been installed in high-profile venues such as the Shard in London and the new World Trade Center in New York as well as in stadia, offices, hotels, apartment blocks and metro systems around the world. Mobile operators benefit by providing the levels of service expected by subscribers, and facilities and venue owners that increase the amount of time the public spend in their venues.

However, there are still a large number of LTE not-spots throughout the US and Europe, predominantly indoors, which threaten to undermine the quality and reliability of next generation services as well as significantly impacting customer satisfaction. Until these not-spots are resolved, the success of VoLTE will always be limited.

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Ingo_Blog Ingo Flömer
Product Manager, Cobham Wireless

Ingo is responsible for defining the product management strategy at Cobham Wireless. He has over 20 years experience in telecommunication, wireless and fixed line and is also an Advisory Board Member for several enterprises and research projects.

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