Just a few short decades ago, the definition of personal and professional communication was vastly different and mostly monotone in nature. The majority of communication took place face-to-face; via a landline telephone; or, if lucky, a computer or handheld phone. It certainly wasn’t the fluid term that communication has come to mean today.
Everything “communication” began to change when the world was introduced to the first iPhone over a decade ago, and progress hasn’t stopped since. Of course, there are some who still view communication in singular terms like the spoken word over a voice call. For most of the world, though, barely a moment passes without being connected by their choice of multiple ways to immediately outreach to others.
The generations of this age and time can stay connected almost anywhere, anytime 24/7. From e-mail, text, and chat to social media and video conferencing, there are a plethora of opportunities to connect with others.
When it comes to business, these communication channels have become an invaluable asset for both internal processes and opportunities to operate more efficiently and effectively toward customers. Employees are enabled to work smarter, not harder, and to do so in less time and with less room for critical error. What once took days or weeks for an employee to accomplish can be done instantly and with the collaboration of customers, coworkers, and/or outside venders. Modern communication is critical to customer gathering, retention, and satisfaction.
Yet, even with all this value, fluidity, and progress, reliability remains a key component. Communication depends upon the technology behind the channels being equal parts efficient, reliable, and conducive to user-preferences. This is exactly why concepts like VoLTE have emerged. It’s a problem-solver.
What makes VoLTE needed and valuable? What’s the difference between it and VoIP? How will VoLTE solve entrepreneurial communication gaps? Let’s explore.
In understanding what VoLTE is and why it matters so much to businesses, it’s important to understand its predecessor technology - VoIP, or voice over internet protocol.
VoIP is a communications methodology offering solutions to the drawbacks of standard communication channels. It uses internet protocol networks to deliver multimedia and voice communications in singularity (one task at a time in most cases.) It blazed the trail of extended value and ease for business communication.
These VoIP services have been around for years now, and they’ve become somewhat standard operating procedure in replacing traditional phone services. They’re generally delivered by the Internet instead of the standard public switch telephone network. Most often, VoIP is analog-based with adapters. Configuring VoIP requires both hardware and software.
VoIP solved many problems presented by traditional landlines in terms of business communication.
Traditional phone lines are typically hard for a business to scale and reconfigure for growth. It’s rarely cost-efficient for a business to add new equipment and phone lines each time it expands and accumulates new employees.
Mobility is highly problematic with traditional lines. Staff miss calls if not on-hand to take them. It was a problem that voice forwarding and similar stopgap measures intended to solve, but the solutions often proved to be more cumbersome and expensive than valuable.
Adding new features, such as voicemail, to a traditional system requires equipment purchases and the need for costly maintenance. The fragility of traditional phone systems is also an issue. Factors such as bad weather could take a business offline for uncertain amounts of time. They’d basically be left unable to conduct business until the phone lines were restored, which could take hours to days.
VoIP was created to solve such traditional system problems without the need for wiring. With VoIP, it’s easy to install, configure, and maintenance the system. It’s cost-efficient, quick, and simple to add and remove additional users, even temporary users like seasonal staff, and it doesn’t require installation of additional phone lines.
These features allow VoIP to scale up and/or down as needed, which is incredibly valuable for growth and hiring predictions. Say the business undershoots at fulfilling such projections after spending massive amounts of money on additional traditional communications equipment. Unlike with VoIP, the business is left holding a very expensive and unnecessary bag of cost.
VoIP was the first one-stop shop for communication needs, which eliminated the need for supplement equipment to handle each individual task. From fax and SMS to voice services and voice messages, VoIP supports many call features over the same system, which is most commonly the public Internet.
Increased mobility, however, is perhaps the best value of VoIP for businesses. Employee phone numbers aren’t stationary entities with business VoIP. Instead, that number can follow employees everywhere. It’s an invaluable component for remote workers and those spending a lot of time traveling or in the field. Now, these employees can be reached by both landline, mobile, and laptop via the same number.
It’s clear that VoIP offers incredible value in terms of the how, when, and where of communication. While VoIP has offered a revolutionary solution in being able to use a single high-speed Internet connection to accomplish both voice, video, and data communications, its analog component leaves VoIP with an array of problems. So, it’s only natural that the ‘voice over’ concept would evolve forward to solutions.
Voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) is the next phase of leaps and bounds for high-speed wireless communication. Unlike its predecessor, it’s specific to mobile phones and data terminals
VoIP requires a business have a high-speed or broadband internet connection, which generally isn’t an issue today since most businesses are network-connected. VoLTE adds a new layer to VoIP in that it allows the business to make voice calls over the same 4G LTE cellular network most smartphones use. Innovative, right? There’s more, too.
BI intelligence is the real star of VoLTE. Today, we don’t just have landlines and smartphones keeping us connected. We have IoT (the Internet of Things,) such as wearable technology like smart watches, to consider.
IoT solution spending for businesses is expected to reach $6 trillion in the next year. It’s not such a shocking number considering Intel recently conducted a study that showed IoT is predicted to encompass 200 billion global devices by the end of the year.
The bottom line is the IoT is a major player expected to encompass everything from connected devices and retailer point of sale systems to manufacturing machines and sensors. And, that’s not even mentioning the B2C market implications.
What VoLTE’s role is in this is turning all of these individual applications into a communications platform fit for the technological world we live in today.
VoLTE Matters To Your Business
Don’t think of VoLTE in terms of replacement technology. It’s not necessarily aimed at stepping into VoIP’s shoes. Instead, think of it as a tool to push the gains already present over traditional communication to even higher dimensions. That push, of course, has significant benefits for your business endeavors.
One such benefit is superior call quality and higher data transfer amounts with VoLTE’s 4G connection, especially when compared to traditional 2G and 3G mobile. VoLTE basically offers users a HD voice call. Why’s this important? Business relationships are as much about clarity and promptness as they are content. A simple voice inflection, missed word, or delay in getting a recipient prompt info can make or break business dealings.
VoLTE also features more impressive coverage and connectivity options. Calls are connected at speeds twice that of a standard connection. As long as there’s an active cellular connection, users can use VoLTE from anywhere, anytime around the globe. When 4G isn’t available, VoLTE simply reverts back to either a 2G or 3G connection.
It’s nice to have a platform in VoIP that enables voice and data from the same source, but VoLTE steps that up to being able to make simultaneous voice and data communications. Heretofore, having an active call meant that a user couldn’t transfer data or that it was transferred at 3G or less speeds. This isn’t the case with VoLTE, which carries data over 4G speeds even when a call is active.
The above abilities can be invaluable to daily business operations. Employees are on a conference call, for example, and need to share project files to all the parties to discuss. With other communication channels, precious time would be squandered ending and resuming the call to send the documents and reconnect. VoLTE enables such business activities to go forward without skipping a beat.
Traditional mobile uses a lot of battery life in constantly switching between 2G, 3G, and 4G. VoLTE typically involves less of these switches, which helps preserve battery life for remote and traveling employees.
Is Mobile Really That Important?
Despite technology leaping, there will be enterprise users and others resistant to change. Early adopters cited VoLTE’s limitation to 4G networks as a concern, and many afraid to take the leap alongside VoLTE today still use it as a talking point.
Indeed, just a few years ago, mobile-only was a valid concern since 4G networks weren’t necessarily available on a mass and reliable scale. Today is a different day, though.
Approximately 95 percent of Americans own a mobile phone, and almost 80 percent of them are smartphone users. As these numbers continually increase year after year, the number of homes with landlines in them continue to steadily decrease. In other words, these mobile users aren’t just pocketing their phones as a secondary source to stay mobile. They’re actually using them as their primary communication source.
Such numbers reveal a trending current of movement in how consumers connect, and businesses would do well to make adjustment pivots if they want to continue to connect with their current and potential consumers. VoLTE is an enabler. Many may look at VoLTE as limited usability in being a mobile-only service, but the implications here aren’t about current scopes being all-inclusive. The design is about where communication is headed more so than where it momentarily stands.
With that in mind, it’s easy to understand that the not so distant future is almost certain to be the masses using their smartphones and mobile devices as their primary, if not only, Internet connection. This is also likely the age in which VoLTE will replace VoIP as the predominant communication form for businesses to utilize in both reaching consumers and enabling smooth operations for employees.
VoLTE Bottom Line
In 2014, VoLTE, as a fully-featured commercial service, was initially launched in Singapore. As far as this type of technology goes, VoLTE is still a toddler. While it may take years or months to grow into its prime, the simultaneous linear advances in smartphones and IoT and declines in traditional communication usage ensures that day will come.
As a mobile-only technology involving both the caller and recipient needing to be connected to a 4G network for it to work, VoLTE does hold certain drawbacks in that it’s a limited communication application. VoIP users do not face this same issue. While it can be an understandable barrier for some businesses, the data shows that it’s highly unlikely for both parties to not have reliable 4G access.
As a more vetted and established product, VoIP offers service packages with a broad range and scope to suit almost any business’s needs, budget, and future goals. VoLTE doesn’t have this experience yet and is limited in the range of additional services it’s capable of providing to its users.
Additional assets aside, VoLTE (as-is) offers an array of benefits to businesses of all sizes and niches. Superior call quality, better coverage, improved connectivity, better mobile battery life, and dual calling and data capability are just a few of the leaps VoLTE has taken atop its VoIP cousin.
All of the above considered, VoLTE is far from a replacement technology set to make anything obsolete, or at least not yet. Currently, it may be best to think of VoLTE as another tool in the communication’s belt adding current value and holding many exciting implications for the future of communications.
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