PARTNER FUNCTION: The sun is setting on the legacy 2G and 3G networks and momentum is picking up worldwide. An October 2022 GSA report found that 142 operators were actively planning or advancing sunsets. Of these, 51 had already completed the decommissioning of a 2G or 3G network when they consolidated to 4G and/or 5G. The GSA forecasts sunset to peak in 2025.
The greater spectral efficiency of newer technologies and the ability to re-land 900MHz and 1800MHz 2G spectrum or 2100MHz 3G spectrum to extend 4G or 5G coverage are just two motivations. Eliminating legacy technologies will reduce network complexity and increase operational efficiencies, as well as help meet sustainability goals by reducing power consumption at a time of rising energy costs.
At the same time, operators are considering the future of legacy network technologies while also wanting to take advantage of the flexibility, agility and improved time-to-market that the cloud offers.
However, 4G and 5G were primarily developed to meet the growing demand for mobile broadband in the internet age. However, language remains important: it is the most basic and intuitive of all telecommunications services. Roaming remains a valued and valuable service for users and operators alike. Most operators are still required to pass through emergency calls.
2G remained the primary carrier for voice traffic throughout the 3G and early years of the 4G era. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) based on IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture was finally introduced to carry voice calls over 4G networks. It also became the fallback voice solution for initial 5G non-standalone deployments. VoLTE is being adapted to create Voice over New Radio (VoNR), a new IMS network capability, for 5G StandAlone.
IMS and the cloud
IMS has emerged as the ideal architecture for delivering high quality digital services. With VoLTE, VoNR and HD Voice capabilities, IMS makes it easy for operators to continuously update and improve their offerings with new, innovative experiences for their customers.
As the deployment of 5G and FTTX accelerates across the telecom sector, IMS can support converged and unified networks that provide centralized session control and multimedia service offerings with unified user experiences across the various access methods.
While IMS lends itself well to cloud deployments, making IMS services truly cloud-native is critical to maximizing benefits. A cloud-native approach delivers and improves flexibility, agility and scalability, and improves product velocity. Additionally, cloud-native infrastructure can improve service orchestration, partner ecosystems, and product innovation. Cloud-native solutions can replace manual processes with automated processes to enable zero-touch, automated deployment.
The use of cloud computing design and architecture concepts is required to take full advantage of cloud capabilities, whether in public, private, or hybrid clouds. The use of microservices in software development enables the adoption of a continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous delivery (CI/CT/CD) approach that can shorten development cycles and reduce the risk of human error. Applications that can be made stateless can become almost infinitely scalable.
VoLTE wholesale in Mexico
Mexican operator Altán Redes has adopted the cloud-native approach to what is arguably one of the most ambitious VoLTE use cases in the world. Since winning a government tender to improve cellphone penetration and network coverage across Mexico’s vast territory, Altán Redes has been building a wholesale 700MHz 4G free-access network known as Red Compartida. The network combines new 4G infrastructure with resources shared by incumbent operators. The Services are marketed to consumers by the partner MNOs and other MVNOs that provide domestic mobile and fixed-line internet services.
VoLTE is the only way to transmit and guarantee calls over the new agnostic 4G network. The IMS solution also offers subscribers improved call quality, the ability to surf the web during the call and enables interconnection with other operators’ 3G networks. In the future, it will also allow easy migration to 5G. The cloud-native IMS VoLTE solution supporting LTE voice and SMS services was provided by JSC Ingenium to Altán Redes.
Adopting the open-source Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) software foundation, the dependency between the application and the underlying platform has been eliminated: JSC Ingenium’s VoLTE IMS is cloud-agnostic, allowing operators to run with their own preferred operating environment to work.
By using Kubernetes, the VoLTE IMS solution can scale from a system supporting just 30 calls per second to millions of calls during rush hour. Smaller start-up operators can run a smaller system from a single PC, while the solution has also been deployed on hyperscalers’ public clouds. A tier one operator runs the solution in its own private telco cloud running in its own container-as-a-service. Outside of peak times, resources can be relieved to minimize operating costs. This flexibility means that the operator cannot be locked into a cloud environment. A fully cloud-native VoNR solution has now been released to complement VoLTE.
For any operator that needs to phase out 2G or 3G, the cloud-native IMS VoLTE and VoNR network capabilities provide the means to begin the transition to a more agile cloud-based enterprise, while ensuring they continue to provide basic voice and mobile communications messaging telecommunications services.