My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel and LIME going VoLTE - Why GSM extinct and Spectrum reused for M2M Services in HD Audio and Video Caribbean VoLTE-Age

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Digicel and LIME going VoLTE - Why GSM extinct and Spectrum reused for M2M Services in HD Audio and Video Caribbean VoLTE-Age

In all this hub-bub about Telecom Provider Digicel setting up a Caribbean wide Streaming TV Network that’s got No Games Just sports from SportsMax as opined in my blog article entitledDigicel purchases SportsMax – Why No Games, Just Sports on Digicel's Streaming Cable TV over Bigger, Better Network 4G LTE and FTTH”, I’ve forgotten one important thing.

Improved Voice and Video Calling!

That’s because Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider LIME have the option to not only just roll out a 4G LTE Data Network but like our American Telecoms counterparts to the North, they can also introduce Jamaica to HD Voice Calling via the introduction of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) as stated in the article “6 Reason why you'll eventually want Voice over LTE”, published August 30, 2014 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

VoLTE is as the name implies; Voice Calls using the 4G LTE Data Network, somewhat like using Skype over the Internet. Telecom Provider Verizon was the first to pioneer the technology back in February 2011 as explained in my blog article entitledVerizon's LTE Network and VoLTE - The Dead Zone meets The Machine Stops”.

The reason for the specific name is because this service would be baked into future smartphones and provided by the Telecom Provider themselves. Thus if you wanted to make a regular Voice Call using the GSM (Global System Mobile) Network, you might still be able to do that if your phones wasn’t 4G LTE Capable.

But with a full 4G LTE, there’d be no need to have a 2G GSM Voice Network with a separate 3G Network. Instead, all Calls would be routed over the 4G LTE Network, which at theoretical speeds as high as 100MBps, would be more than capable of handling the Voice Calls.

Hopefully, customer will see the benefits and change out their handsets, preferably via a donation to the Digicel foundation as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel Foundation swap cellphones for Tablets for Autistic Children - How Cellphone Recycling makes money as we drown in Electronic Waste and Noise”.

Digicel and LIME going 4G LTE - VoLTE means HD Audio/Video on a Telecom Network

This is because whereas over the 2G GSM Network, the sampling rate for converting your Voice, which is analog into PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) packet for digitization and compression is 8kbps. Using VoLTE, the sampling rate is set at 13kbps, which will basically result in near HD Audio Quality, depending on the microphone on your smartphone.

Thus VoLTE has a lot in common with the current interest in HD Audio Music players such as the Neil Young’s Kickstarter project for the Pono Music and the more recent US$700 Sony Walkman NWXZ-ZX1, both of who may be coming this Christmas 2014 as speculated in my blog article entitled “US$700 Sony Walkman NWXZ-ZX1 – Trend towards HD Audio in Asia and Japan will make it sell in the US of A”.

It may sound like much ado about nothing, but you’ll hear the difference. In fact, it far better than Skype Calling, as instead of your Voice being routed over a Third Party Server, the Telecom Provider’s own Dedicated Servers handle the Voice Call, keeping all traffic within the Telecom Providers Network Infrastructure. Thus Calls are not only crisp, but Call setup is also near instantaneous, so long as you have a Data connection.

Not only that, but with the added Bandwidth, Video calling would be possible as a VAS (Value Added Service). Not only that, but Wi-Fi Handover of call, at least in the US of A, would be easier, as Telecom Provider already use Wi-Fi to handle Video calling and the Voice Calls are really just VoIP Calls in essence handled entirely by the Telecom Provider.

Thus 4G LTE Networks, no matter what spectrum they use, be it 700MHZ or AWS (Advanced Wireless Spectrum) bands of 1800MHz, 1900Mz or 2100MHz as in the case of Telecom Provider LIME in my blog article entitled “LIME chooses AWS for 4G LTE – AWS Link Budget difference reduces Shadowing as It’s all about Optimization and Human Nature”, would have coverage, both indoors and outdoors

Telecom Provider benefit from VoLTE – Reuse of GSM Spectrum and M2M Services

And that they next thing! The old 2G Network involved 8kbps sampling and conversion of analog Voice to a digitally compressed PCM over an Analog Carrier as is the case with GSM. It also consisted of a separate 3G Network, making Telecom Operators basically manage three (3) separate Networks:

1.      2G GSM Voice
2.      3G Data Network
3.      IPRAN (Internet Protocol Radio Access Network) Data Network for Backhaul purposes

Because this is the rerouting of Voice calls over an all-Data Network as data packet riding on a QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) Network Telecom Operator are effectively handling 2 Networks:

1.      4G LTE (Data and Voice)
2.      IPFON ((Internet Protocol Fiber Optic Network) Data Network for Backhaul purposes

Good to note that last bit about the IPFON. In a Mobile Telecom Provider Network, there are three types of Cell Sites:

1.      Drop Nodes or Hub Sites – These are the main Cell Sites that make up the ring around the island that carry the bulk of the Traffic from the Cell Sites back to the MSC. They would hold a RBS (Radio Base Station) serves as the main Microwave Radio looking back to the MSC via another Drop Node
2.      Connecting Sites – these Sites have Microwave Radios that act as a cross-connection between Spur Sites in a far away location and help to connect them to the closest Drop Node
3.      Spur Sites – These are the minor Sites that would handle Traffic that’s not near to a Hub Site. Their Microwave Radios traditionally look towards another Connecting Cell Site that eventually connects them in series to a nearby Hub Site.

In order to handles speed of up to 10MBps theoretical to customers, the Backhaul Network that carries traffic between the various Drop Nodes or Hub Sites, Connecting Sites and Spur sites back to the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) will have to be Fiber Optic.

Now with all traffic off the GSM Voice Network, the spectrum originally used for that Network can be repurposed for other things such as M2M (Machine-2-Machine) Services as explained in my blog article entitled “Telecom Provider LIME and M2M Services - Free SMS and EDGE for the Caribbean to Foster Regional Integration”.

VoLTE for the Caribbean – GSM phones to become extinct in the Caribbean VoLTE-Age

With all that Submarine Fiber Optic Cable Network that Telecom Provider Digicel has purchased as explained in my blog article entitled “Digicel completes Caribbean-wide Submarine Fiber Optic Acquisitions - 4G LTE launch of Caribbean Streaming TV”, there has to me more traffic than just people Streaming Sports Events.

That anticipate traffic has to be coming from HD Voice Calling and Video Calling within the Caribbean, which Telecom Provider Digicel is setting up their Network to anticipate. The Streaming Cable TV Service is most like to keep the Network occupied with Traffic during Off Peak voice Traffic periods, as SportsMax is a 24 hour sports channel.

When more content is added as provided from their various Cable TV acquisitions including Telstar Cable here in Jamaica as explained in my blog article entitled “Digicel officially acquires Telstar Cable – Why Digicel is launching IPTV Streaming over 4G LTE using 20 Years of Cable TV History”.

So Telecom Provider Benefit and so too do customer. Expect problems after the initial roll-out of the 4G LTE Networks. Telecom Providers still have to sort out the kinks such as pricing of voice separate from Data and Cross-Network VoLTE Calling. They also have to convince the customers upgrade their smartphone to 4G LTE Capable handsets

Slowly but surely, Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider LIME are bringing the Caribbean forward into the VoLTE-Age.

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