Delivering voice calls over cellular data networks is great for operators. For mobility managers it’s dialling up a new source of bill shock. Mobile operators around the globe are shuttering their old 2G voice networks in favour of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services. These run over the 4G/LTE data networks they’ve been deploying since 2013. AT&T announced its US rollout of VoLTE ahead of last month’s iPhone 6 launch and Verizon looks set to follow later this year.

It’s easy to see why operators are keen to jump on VoLTE. As with VoIP on wireline phones, moving calls to data transport means a simpler network to manage and lower operational costs.
The benefit to mobility managers, however, isn’t so obvious.
While call quality is apparently much better on VoLTE than traditional methods, moving calls to data could also mean adding another drain on monthly mobile data allowances, resulting in higher data costs. VoLTE also allows operators to provide their own Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as video calling.
Considering that popular mobile apps like Skype and Apple FaceTime already create headaches for enterprises due to excessive data consumption, won’t operator-run services be just as bad?
US operators have begun to offer unlimited voice plans in recent months, but with voice calls moving over the same network as any other mobile data app, we have to assume that operators will re-think how they charge for voice service, as well as any new RCS services like video calling. It sounds suspiciously like a new recipe for bill shock.
Verizon has already said it will split the video and voice billing for its VoLTE offering, meaning the video portion of the call will be counted against a customers’ monthly data allotment. If a video call consumes 7Mbps of data per minute (a safe average estimate), a 10-minute video call will consume 70Mb of data.
Have a look at our recommendations for controlling mobile data issues. Whether it’s an operator’s VoLTE service or Skype calling, don’t let them cause you mobile nightmares!
Reading this in the USA? Have a look at Verizon’s online data calculator to judge the impact of VoLTE on your mobile workforce.