Enabling access to voice services via LPWAN without the need for additional cellular technologies.
Thalwil, Switzerland – September 26, 2019 – u‑blox (SIX:UBXN), a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies, has announced that, in conjunction with leading telecom operator Swisscom, it has completed a Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call across a live LTE-M cellular low power wide area network (LPWAN). This is the first time such a call has ever been achieved in Europe.
The call was made over Swisscom’s LTE-M network, using a u‑blox LTE-M evaluation kit. It followed on from preliminary tests that had been conducted at Swisscom’s laboratories and live network, where an array of different voice-related alarm and emergency functions were all validated. The test configurations included calls from a mobile handset to a landline phone, a landline phone to a mobile, and mobile to mobile, as well as hand-over switching between multiple LTE-M base stations.
VoLTE enables voice communication on packet-switched 4G networks. Being able to deliver voice calls directly over LTE-M represents a major technological advance for the industry. Such LPWAN networks are designed to prolong the battery life of IoT devices and provide better in-building coverage. It also means that circuit-switched 2G or 3G voice connections no longer have to be relied upon, and the necessary infrastructure can be significantly reduced. Consequently the costs that OEMs face, in terms of constituent hardware and implementation effort, can be dramatically reduced. Furthermore, it ensures that OEMs have future proofed themselves against the planned shutdown by many operators of their legacy 2G services.
Building automation, connected health and automotive are among the sectors that can derive benefits from VoLTE utilizing LTE-M. Key use cases include mobile personal emergency response monitors (for the elderly), connected elevators, car crash reporting mechanisms, fire prevention, residential security and numerous other IoT-related applications where there are both power consumption and resource constraints to factor in, but a certain degree of voice interaction would be of value.
“This yet again underlines the traction that u‑blox technology is continuing to make within the LPWAN arena, and that we are acknowledged as the go-to technology supplier by the world’s foremost network operators,” states Diego Grassi, Senior Principal Product Strategy, Product Center Cellular at u‑blox. “Through VoLTE we can eliminate the need for an additional 2G or 3G connectivity to take care of the voice aspect. Instead everything can be handled solely by the LTE-M network, thereby keeping overall system cost and complexity down.”
“This is an important step forward. Our customers have been waiting for Voice on LTE-M as an important feature for LPWA networks. There are many applications that require low bandwidth, low energy consumption and voice support, for examples emergency phones in remote locations,” says Julian Dömer, Head of IoT at Swisscom. “It also opens up an array of new possibilities and reduces complexity for the many IoT use cases that need voice.”
u‑blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies for the automotive, industrial, and consumer markets. Their solutions let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules, and a growing ecosystem of product supporting data services, u‑blox is uniquely positioned to empower its customers to develop innovative solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost-effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, the company is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA.
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