Mobile VoIP Via VoLTE Inches Closer To Reality

Surfing the web this week I stumbled across a somewhat techie little piece of news that’s actually big news for VoIP users, particularly the massive body of potential mobile VoIP users.

It seems that back on Dec. 23 Qualcomm and Ericsson completed the first voice call handover from an LTE mobile network to a WCDMA network using Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC). (I can only guess that Qualcomm waited more than a month to publicize the event in part because news tends to get lost or buried over the holiday season, and in part because of the time it typically takes for each dot in a press release to be approved by a corporate hierarchy – in this case two corporate hierarchies.)

The significance of the event to VoIP users, Qualcomm explains, is that it has demonstrated “an important technology required for voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) support.”

“SRVCC is a 3GPP specified feature that enables continuity of service by seamlessly switching to a WCDMA network when a consumer on a VoLTE call leaves the LTE network’s coverage area” Qualcomm says.

What that means to what I expect will be a huge number of mobile VoIP users in the fairly near future is that because of the generous bandwidth and low latency of LTE, cell phones will act basically as ATAs connected to miniature wireless broadband receivers. And when those receivers roam outside of an area covered by LTE, calls won’t be lost, but rather will switch automatically to a 3G network.

Some in the VoIP industry are even already predicting that the latest advance in technology is a major step toward the eventual end to metered cellphone calls – plans with a certain number of minutes per month – just as metered landlines pretty much disappeared years ago.

For business VoIP users it means even more. Phone.com does have Mobile Office apps, which make use of 3G connectivity on smart phones for administrative access to a user’s phone system, and for call set-up, but in general the calls still go over the (metered) cellular voice network, not via VoIP. But when the new LTE technology is ready for general deployment that will change and become pure VoIP all the way – which means that the cellphone really does become just another extension on the company’s virtual PBX phone system.

Stuart Zipper is currently a contributing editor to Communications Technology, a high tech business journalism consultant and freelancer, and the past Senior Editor of TelecomWeb news break.