Mobile network service providers are increasingly coming under pressure to improve their profit margins -- as well as introduce new services to counter the competition from freemium Over-the-Top (OTT) services such as Skype, Viber, Whatsapp, and FaceTime.
To date, mobile network operators have had limited options with 3G, but 4G LTE should give them some new tools that should help to expand their service delivery horizons.
In 2Q 2012, minutes of use showed the greatest declines compared to 2011 in Asia-Pacific (-7.36 percent), Africa (-6.3 percent), Western Europe (-2.32 percent), and North America (-2.12 percent).
"The only regions with any significant positive growth were the Middle East (8.5 percent) and Latin America (5.87 percent)," said Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.
LTE does not just transform the delivery of broadband data, it also can enrich the voice services market potential. SK Telecom, Korea's largest mobile network operator, launched out the world's first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services on 8 August, 2012.
More recently, LG U+ in South Korea and MetroPCS Communications in the U.S. market have also introduced Voice over LTE.
Messages Sent has been stable in Q2 2012 compared to last quarter, with Q-on-Q increase rate of 0.16 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, 0.14 percent in North America, 0.18 percent in Western Europe.
In contrast, mobile data traffic continues its rapid increase with 13.4 Exabytes to be consumed through 2012, while over the forecast period the mobile data traffic could potentially reach 110 Exabytes by 2017 -- with a CAGR over the 2012-2017 of 53.4 percent.
Overall global 4G traffic has a CAGR of 147.5 percent, compared to 3G traffic which has a CAGR of only 69.6 percent.
For voice communications, VoLTE enables rich media content to be overlaid over voice, while the packetized delivery of the voice data allows for greater cost of service savings. Moreover, voice over LTE services might help operators to retain a competitive portion of the mobile voice over IP market.