Of the 7.9 billion mobile subscribers worldwide today, just shy of 50% are on LTE and fewer than 20% are utilizing VoLTE. IMS will be the service engine for 5G voice as it is today for VoLTE, ensuring IMS will continue as the core voice network for some time.
Voice over 5G new radio will be the next wave of wireless voice activity driving IMS deployments. Most current 5G activity is not on new radio but rather repurposes 4G radio with the goal of moving to 5G radio. The need for IMS does not go away with 5G. In both cases, there remains a requirement for IMS. With 4G radio, voice will run over the VoLTE network, and as operators move to 5G new radio, voice will continue to run over an IMS core.
Shifting to Cloud-Native
Operators must shift to software-based networks using virtualization and cloud-native designs to become nimble and competitive with new service creation. For those operators moving to 5G, virtualization and cloud-native networks are a requirement. The risk in the future for those that don’t modernize their networks is the inability to compete with other operators and technology giants that are fighting for subscribers and service revenue.
Today, operators can utilize all the necessary IMS network elements available as virtualized software. There is nothing from the technology enablement side that should be holding operators back from migrating to virtualized and cloud-native IMS.
Migrating to 5G Voice
For mobile operators, there is an urgency around network transformation to start planning and deploying 5G. For some operators that haven’t yet deployed VoLTE and feel the push to 5G, there is movement to get VoLTE up and running with 5G-enabled IMS as described above in order to utilize the same IMS core for both LTE and 5G.
The most efficient approach to 5G is to utilize the existing VoLTE network for voice while repurposing the network when an operator moves to 5G new radio. This migration entails moving to a microservices architecture built on virtualized software, which should allow operators to utilize the same IMS core for VoLTE and 5G voice while offering a more efficient deployment of new services.
IMS is Here to Stay with 5G
As operators begin the move to 5G, IMS will remain more important than ever. With 5G, voice will run over the IMS core network—initially using 4G radio, and then operators will move to 5G new radio. The 5G network will require a cloud-native core and edge to handle increasingly complex connectivity and service demands on the network.
Download the white paper, “Cloud-Native IMS: Critical for Mobile Operators,” for more information on why the migration to virtualized and cloud-native networks is vital to the future success of mobile operators.