VoIP, Cost & Branding

Surely, that's the catch 22 for networks all the opportunities LTE brings for download services, streaming services which potentially bring in revenue also potentially wipe away the network's old revenue model.

JPB "The trend is there. Especially on the long term but we will see what solutions are there in these organisations. How the voice will be treated in LTE. For the moment there are different schools, there is a group with T-Mobile involved which wants VoIP over LTE as soon as possible. On the contrary there are other groups - NSN, Orange and so on - they say in the first period of LTE will be a data service then in the second step they will add voice. Pragmatically I think it will be the two tier model."

Are calls over LTE potentially better quality than over 3G?

JPB "They're not intrinsically better voice quality. The first edition of LTE is called Version 8 and it is now locked and will the rolled out, the next step is Version 9 and this will have to deal with voice so really this will be the task for that version. Remember IP calls are best effort at the moment while circuit switch and packet switch are held to higher requirements, emergency services must always be contactable for example."

Is there any reason LTE services should be disproportionately more expensive than existing 3G services?

JPB "For the moment we simply don't know the tariffs. There will be an explosion of data traffic and a range of different tariffs. Caps are important because when you allow people to download faster meaning they can accidentally go through their tariff caps faster and run up large bills. The model we are looking at combines clear indications to the user about usage and also an automatic throttingly of their connection once they have passed their allowance. They could also drop into another pre-arranged tariff when they go over their allowance."

CS "This will become increasingly relevant with programmes like Spotify which are not just about downloading a lot of data when streaming but uploading it too {Spotify works via a torrent model}. Customers often don't understand this and think 'Great free music'. With mobile applications of these kinds of service coming it's dangerous. Then again, currently there is no mobile device which can absorb a stream of 5/10Mbit per second - the bottlenecks come elsewhere."

To end, how do you think LTE will be marketed? 3G is a household name and '4G' would be an easy sell.

JPB "As a trade body we need to be careful. We are promoters but we must not create false hype. We need to name things by their real names. We don't want to over promise. Neither LTE or WiMax is 4G, they are extensions of 3G. The Japanese have found the real term, that is 'Super 3G' and that is what it represents. It is the ultimate form of 3G. They call it 3G 3.9"

CS "Whatever 4G will be it is not set but it will be very different because 3G is at its peak. 4G is looking at 100Mbit in full mobility and one gigabit when stationary. It's a hugely ambition plan but is little more than writing on the back of a napkin."

This is when British Telecom really starts to worry. Thank you very much Jean-Pierre and Chris, it has been an education.

 
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