Preparing Your Voice Network for 5G
With no shortage of 5G-enabled devices in the early days of 5G network deployments, the new mobile technology is expected to take off faster than 4G or any previous mobile generation. CCS Insight forecasts that there will be one billion 5G connections by the middle of 2023, more than half of which will be in China. Fast data rates and industrial IoT applications get all the attention and are the primary drivers for 5G – but another deserving, yet often overlooked, area is modernizing voice services in the 5G area.
Why you ask? Voice services are an essential part of Communications Service Provider (CSP) businesses. While Juniper Research estimates that pure mobile operator voice revenue will decline by 45% by 2024, the research firm expects the decline in mobile voice revenue to be offset by new 5G-based voice and video services and an increase in mobile video calling.
5G is Turning Point for CSP Voice Services
The transition to 5G creates an opportunity for CSPs to modernize voice service delivery via cloud native network software as well as to establish a platform for developing new voice services. In other words, it’s an opportunity to realize cost savings through greater efficiency and generate new service revenue. So, you see, the arguments for supporting mobile packet voice are stronger than ever in the 5G era.
Cloud native IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) was previously optional, but it is a requirement for 5G infrastructures. Cloud native network functions (CNFs) enable CSPs to fully realize the cost savings and service agility long promised by network virtualization. CNFs can be scaled according to traffic patterns which aligns capacity costs to actual demand and avoids over-provisioning. They are lightweight, use fewer CPU resources and avoid the costs of running a hypervisor environment as is the case with virtual machines. CNFs also enable rapid service deployment since virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) can be up and running in a matter seconds.
In addition to the efficiencies inherent in cloud native software design, all the familiar advantages of vIMS-based Voice over LTE (VoLTE) take on greater significance for Voice over 5G (Vo5G). By migrating subscribers to the packet mobile voice core network, CSPs can decommission legacy 2G or 3G networks and reuse that spectrum to add much-needed capacity to 4G and 5G services. Furthermore, call setup times are faster and call quality is better on VoLTE and Vo5G.
5G Voice Service Innovation
In these early days of 5G, the sky’s the limit for new use cases. Name any vertical industry – from automotive, to manufacturing, to the public sector -- and there will undoubtedly be an application that 5G can enable or improve through high throughput, low latency and support for massive amounts of devices in the next few years. Many of these enterprise IoT applications will also have a critical communications component that will need the capabilities of a 5G-ready IMS core to deliver real-time voice or video communications.
A cloud native IMS core supports network slicing, whereby CSPs can instantiate granular, optimized IMS slices for specific applications. This capability opens a world of new service possibilities, particularly for edge services and private 5G networks.
To turn these opportunities into real revenue-generating services, CSPs need a flexible, cloud native IMS core that can be deployed in any private, public or hybrid cloud, whether it’s centralized, at the edge of the network or at the customer’s premises.
Given the rapid uptake of 5G, the time is right to implement cloud-native solutions to support VoLTE/Vo5G.