It’s a cold December morning in Milan and as I step over to the window of my tiny hotel room to draw the curtains, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that the clouds of yesterday bringing torrential downpour have bid farewell without even saying Ciao. As the first rays of sunlight hit my face, I close my eyes to the soulless view of the motorway but struggle to feel the warmth of the Sun. On the inside there’s one and only one thought which has a certain glow to it … but it comes with its share of trepidation. Will it happen? Will we seize the day? Will we unite for the good of all …? Or will the malaise of “only I” over power us.
It’s day 1 of the first VoLTE Roaming Taskforce meeting, Jason and I walk into the very modern offices to be welcomed by the smiling faces of our hosts and in the background I can already see that Johannes from Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier (we call him the Doctor) is getting battle ready and loading his guns with Caffeine. My nerves start to settle and doubts start to evaporate. As we are ushered into a fabulous glass meeting room on the top floor with the Alps in clear witness of what could be a momentous day, my confidence starts to grow … I spot Marjolein from Telefonica group, Natalia from Veon, Alain from Orange gesticulating with Benoit from Bouygues. The ever-charming Jason from Verizon stretches his hand out … and I finally have warmth. … and then two more of our industry colleagues, all the way from Japan walk in. I’m introduced to more attendees from Austria, from Sweden from Denmark … Warmth? What warmth? … It’s like an Indian summer here! I’m running hot … how is it that I can’t see ice melting on the mountain top? I am in the company of some of the best people in the industry, I feel a bit ashamed, how could I have had any doubts?
We start off our meeting by presenting insights from ROCCO’s research on VoLTE Roaming, Decommissioning and change in operator resource priorities. We ask ourselves, why has VoLTE roaming not gained traction. In 2018, 125 MNO’s indicated that they will launch VoLTE Roaming by 2019, why do we only have a handful?
It’s not good news, all around the room I just see nods of complete agreement … WE’VE LET THIS ONE SLIP. There’s still limited awareness in the industry of the massive challenge we face. Most business cases on VoLTE roaming being presented in roadmap planning and budget meetings at MNO’s aren’t taking into account the massive disruption legacy network decommissioning across the globe is going to cause. Operators are having to work in silos, developing solutions on their own …
standards on paper don’t reflect real life scenarios. Handset manufacturers seem to be working on tangent, National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) are refusing to keep pace with technology and absolutely insist on status quo. In countries with a simplified Emergency calling dial plan, whilst calls may work, in others with multiple emergency numbers it may not, and even if they do, it’s not necessarily true for all devices. Operators are having to ship handsets to get VoLTE tested … we are powerless. Visited Country Short Codes and SRVCC (Single Radio Voice Call Continuity) is taboo to even talk about !
It’s clear as day, Operators have lost their voice … and I’m not just talking about 4G!
As the discussion gets heated, jackets come off … sleeves are rolled up and the passion is palpable. We are finally in unison, when the going gets tough, the tough indeed do get going!!
Soon enough it looks like we have a way forward for testing without exchanging handsets.
The IT curse tries to discourage connecting to the massive screens on all sides of the room, but there’s no stopping now, we overcome the technical challenges and solutions for Emergency calls are presented.
Cameron Dunn calls in from AT&T, and offers to share the solutions they’ve developed so that not everyone is re-inventing the wheel.
It’s started to brew; the potion made from the mix of passion, expertise and teamwork can be smelled from the majestic Duomo that sits miles away at the centre of Milan.
Battle cries have been let out and operators are on the march to get their “Voice” back!
As I walk back to my hotel with a nose so frozen that it’s about to fall off, all I feel is inspiration, I feel like coming off the set of Braveheart, having run behind Mel Gibson shouting “…. They will never take away our VOICE.”
The VoLTE Taskforce is an Operator member only project founded and facilitated by ROCCO with a mission to mobilise the industry, search for and streamline solutions and get the Voice over LTE Juggernaut firing on all cylinders with the clear view to also start charting the path for Voice over 5G.
If you are a Mobile Network Operator and would like to contribute and join the initiative (there are no fees) please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a vendor and offer solutions related to VoLTE Roaming Testing or DPI solutions for Legal Intercept, or perhaps have a solution for non-VoLTE compliant HPMNs to get voice to work on 4G networks, please also reach out to us at the above email.
By Dhiraj Wazir, Deputy Chair VoLTE Roaming Taskforce