5G Voice users will reach 2.5bn globally by 2026; Report

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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The total number of Voice-over-5G (Vo5G) users will reach 2.5 billion globally by 2026, rising 780 percent from only 290 million in 2022, according to a new study by Juniper Research.

This remarkable growth will be driven by the acceleration of 5G rollouts following a slowing during the pandemic. Vo5G leverages the software-based nature of 5G networks to offer application programming interfaces (APIs) for business voice services over operator networks.

The new research, Mobile Voice Strategies: Future Monetization Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2022-2026, urges operators to capitalize on the growth of Vo5G users to create a new portfolio of voice services. It recommends operators prioritize interactive calling, intelligent call routing, and integration of AI-based Interactive Voice Services (IVR) as these provide the most immediate return on investment of Vo5G.

In particular, the report identified interactive calling as a key opportunity for operators who have launched 5G to provide more valuable voice services and compete with OTT voice apps. Interactive calling leverages 5G networks to offer advanced voice calling functionality, including interactive content and screen sharing, directly in the native calling app on smartphones, thus negating the need for third-party applications.

Current 4G voice technology, VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE), is insufficient to support interactive calling. Whilst there are currently over 4.4 billion VoLTE users, representing over 50 percent of subscribers, the lower speed of 4G networks in comparison to 5G networks has thus far restricted the use of interactive features or AI in operators’ voice services.

Despite the growth of Vo5G, the report forecasts operator-billed voice revenue will decline by 16 percent over the next four years, as P2P voice traffic migrates to third-party voice apps.

It urges operators to capitalize on the growth of 5G to develop new business-oriented voice services, such as interactive calling. 5G-based voice services must emulate operators’ current business messaging solutions by levying the cost on enterprises, rather than monetizing mobile subscriber usage.

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