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UAE telco du to launch IP-based video calling service this year

UAE telecom operator du is planning to launch high-definition video calling on its 4G LTE and 5G networks by the end of the year, not app-dependent.

The video calling service via the 4G LTE network is known as ViLTE and more than 5G is known as video via a new radio.

"We have successfully tested the function on our networks and are working to obtain all necessary approvals, internally and from TRA, to provide the service to customers," says Saleem Al Blooshi, Chief Technology Officer at EITC, the parent company of du, in an exclusive for TechRadar Middle East.

He said that many applications already offer ViLTE, but the difference with operators' ViLTE is interoperability.

"You use the application in the phone instead of a downloadable third party to make video calls. It's as simple as making a phone call. We hope to launch the service this year and the devices that support voice over LTE (VoLTE), now also expect to support ViLTE.

What are VOLTE and ViLTE

With VoLTE, the benefits are high-definition voice, better clarity, faster connection time and the ability to surf the internet while calling and it is more a back-end cellular technology for mobile network operators.

ViLTE is a cellular data technology based on IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and is considered an extension to VoLTE technology, which means that the function is network dependent.

VoLTE service is only offered for VoLTE certified devices by the TRA and the same applies to ViLTE.

According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, 257 smartphones from 36 suppliers worldwide support ViLTE capabilities, and Apple ' s expect iPhones from February 2019.

TRA has banned the Skype, Apple FaceTime, Google Duo, and WhatsApp features for voice and video calls in the UAE, because VoIP is a regulated service and interested players must get a UAE license or authorization and follow the framework.

However, telecom providers have maintained over-the-top (OTT) apps such as Botim, C ' Me and YzerChat to offer subscribers voice and video calls for a monthly fee of AED 50 for mobile users and AED 100 per month for WiFi users at home.

"The OTT apps such as BoTim, YzerChat and C ' me have different marketing techniques, but our contract will be with customers with a monthly subscription," said Al Blooshi.

Two different signaling technologies

Although telecom operators use apps from third parties such as Botim and C & apos; offer me for voice and video calls in the UAE, said Krishna Chinta, research analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC), that ViLTE and VoIP apps work on two different signal technologies and they follow different business models.

Chinta said that ViLTE offers superior HD speech and video quality and is billed based on usage, which can vary from one service plan to another while the paid VoIP service comes with a certain usage limit per month.

However, it is evolving towards a cost-effective technology for mobile network operators and it eliminates the costs and efforts associated with maintaining a separate circuit-switched network, as was the case in the 2G era.

No impact on Telco's voice revenues

Sukhdev Singh, executive director at research and advisory service provider Kantar, said the quality and interface of the OTT apps are not that good, so ViLTE will be successful in a market like the UAE and people will be ready to pay for it .

To make OTT voice and video calls, he said that the other end of the line must also have the same OTT app.

"I'm not sure if a customer can make international video calls and it is likely that the service will only be made available in the UAE. We have to wait and watch," he said.

Because it is not app-dependent, he said that video calling offers more possibilities and is used more.

"If a customer can make international video calls, the recording will be even higher, but this does not affect the voice revenues of telecom providers. Video will become more popular among friends and families and not for business purposes, and at the same time it will not cannibalize voice but it will all depend on the video quality, "he said.

Chinta said that ViLTE is capable of transporting voice and video traffic as data packets over the LTE cellular network. It makes the traditional circuit-switched voice network almost superfluous.

Income that can be earned

From a telecom operator's point of view, Chinta said that ViLTE, similar to that of VoLTE and regular mobile voice service, is capable of growing up as a core mobile communications service that provides instant income in money.

"For comparison: paid VoIP app service is considered an OTT service, which generates an increasing revenue stream that is comparable to that of international VoIP calling cards for telecom operators. ViLTE is therefore not expected to do so in the short to medium term. constitutes direct competition for the paid VoIP service, "he said.

Sanmeet Kochhar, general manager for the Middle East at HMD Global, said the figures for mobile video consumption in the Middle East and Africa are growing fairly fast, with some reports indicating a 90% growth compared to the previous one year.

Growth of video traffic in mobile networks

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, video traffic in mobile networks worldwide is expected to grow by around 34% annually by 2024, representing nearly three-quarters of mobile data traffic, from around 60% in 2018 due to the increase in embedded video in many online applications, growth of video-on-demand (VoD) streaming services in terms of both subscribers and viewing time per subscriber, and the continuous evolution towards higher screen resolutions on smart devices.

All Nokia smartphones come with ViLTE over 4G networks, Kochhar said.

"It is exciting to see how the region is preparing the way for a more connected future," he added.

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