YOU ARE AT:Carriers@MWC: GSMA looks to standardize voice over LTE, application platform

@MWC: GSMA looks to standardize voice over LTE, application platform

BARCELONA– With all the hype surrounding LTE technology, you would think it was pre-ordained to take over the telecom industry. However, until today there was no set standard for how carriers could transport plain old voice services – you remember voice don’t you? – over the highest of high tech networks.
The GSMA is looking to change that with today’s unveiling of its Voice over LTE initiative that is set to standardize how carriers can transport voice services over LTE networks in order to ensure interoperability between networks and a consistent level of voice quality. The initiative takes advantage of the previously announced One Voice Initiative, with GSMA’s broad influence bringing a greater level of industry support.
The GSMA said the initial initiative has the support of more than 40 companies, including some big names like AT&T Inc., China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom AG, NTT DoCoMo Inc., Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group plc. In addition, the initiative has support from the largest infrastructure players like Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, L.M. Ericsson, Nokia Corp., Huawei Technologies Inc. and Qualcomm Inc.
“It was our belief that it was a necessity,” said Verizon Communications Inc. EVP and CTO Dick Lynch. “Voice is nothing more than just an application. We have that standard now set.”
Lynch’s comments echoed those by AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega, who speaking during the CTIA event last spring said that voice was just another application that would run on its LTE network.
The initiative also appears to be a boost for the fledgling IMS movement that seems to have stalled due to concerns about cost and complexity.
“We have seen lots of IMS deployments on the fixed side and it made sense to bring that to mobile,” said Hakan Eriksson, CTO at Ericsson.
It also solidifies IMS as the de facto standard for telecom operators looking to launch VoLTE as well as converging fixed and mobile plans.
“The case for other than IMS is overstated and short term,” Lynch said. “If you think about what IMS is capable of doing over the long term and think of companies with both wireline and wireless networks it makes sense.”
Lynch also deftly sidestepped a question about the possibility of the carrier partnering with Skype Ltd. to provide an interim VoIP solution on its network. Verizon Wireless has a press conference scheduled with Skype for day 2 of the Mobile World Congress event.
“I am not going to rule anything out,” Lynch said in response to possible use of a Skype solution. “We are serving 91 million voice users on our existing CDMA network. We have invested a lot of money in that network providing great service.”
WAC initiative
In addition to the VoLTE initiative, the GSMA also announced its Wholesale Applications Community – that’s right, WAC – to build what it calls “an open platform that delivers applications to all mobile phone users.”
Sounds like another app store rip-off? Well, the GSMA was quick to point out that the initiative is not looking to sell applications to consumers, but instead to encourage developers to write more applications for app stores using an open industry platform.
Similar to its other initiatives, the GSMA has a broad base of support for WAC, including AT&T, China Mobile and China Unicom, DT, DoCoMo, Sprint Nextel Corp., Verizon and Vodafone.
The GSMA was quick to note that the initiative does not in any way inhibit the Joint Innovation Lab initiative Verizon launched last year with Vodafone and China Mobile, or Verizon’s own plans to launch its own branded application store.
“All of the JIL members are part of this initiative,” said Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA. “This is not about closing people out … it’s about getting more developers involved.”
The GSMA was short on details for the initiative, noting that the partnership was finalized literally hours before the Mobile World Congress event got underway.
In connection with the plan, the GSMA noted that its One API initiative had just begun in Canada with all of that country’s nationwide operators agreeing to a plan to use a single platform for application developers.


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