Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Deutsche Telekom deploys Joyn (RCSe)

Operator group Deutsche Telekom has become the latest firm to offer the GSMA’s Joyn messaging platform to its users. The operator has rolled out the service to customers in its native Germany. 

Joyn is the brand name for the GSMA-led rich communications service, hailed by some as the answer to the OTT threat faced by mobile network operators. The service supports a range of functions, including group chat, file transfers throughout a range of different file formats and live video sharing during voice calls.

Deutsche Telekom becomes the second operator in Germany to launch Joyn after Vodafone. According to the GSMA, Spanish operator group Telefónica will also launch Joyn in the market later this year, and the service will be available to over 80 per cent of all mobile customers in Germany.

“Joyn is particularly easy to use. Customers will no longer have to worry about “what’s the best way to reach him/her?”; they won’t have to remember what different services each of their contacts uses,” said Niek Jan van Damme, Deutsche Telekom board member.

The operator said that the service’s chat and file-transfer functions are available at no additional charge for customers on tariffs that include a data or SMS at a flat rate. “Joyn users with such plans can share large numbers of files without having the transmitted data be charged against the data-volume limits in their plans,” the operator said in a statement. “And the cap on file size is generous: 15 MB. Even live video sharing does not generate any additional costs for customers with a voice flat rate or voice minutes package.” 

The service will also be available to customers on prepaid plans until August 31, 2013, at no additional charge and without further constraints, the operator added. The operator group also stressed its commitment to data security and pointed out that its server facilities are based in Germany so the service conforms to stringent European data-protection regulations. 

“With Joyn—in contrast to the procedure with other messengers—a device’s address book always remains on the local device,” the operator added. “No copies of it are uploaded to globally distributed servers for open-ended storage. When Joyn is used via a public wifi network, initial portions of messages are not transmitted in encrypted form, but Deutsche Telekom plans to eliminate that limitation by summer 2013.”

The GSMA has also revealed that “in the near future”, the Joyn service will come preinstalled on new smartphones from Samsung, HTC, Sony, Nokia and LG. A beta version of Joyn is now available in the Google Play Store, for Android version 2.3 and higher, and will be available soon in Apple’s App Store for iOS, the association added.

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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Telefónica O2 takes fight to OTT VoIP providers with Tu Go launch

O2 UK is launching its Tu Go app the operator said will enable its users to make and receive calls, texts and voicemail via the Internet using their existing telephone number.
The service, available on all Apple and Android devices, is free to download for O2 contract customers, with the calls and texts taken from their existing bundle.
The aim of Tu Go is to free customers from being locked to a single handset, O2 UK product manager Caroline Dundas told BBC News.

"Customers can now take their mobile number wherever they like, even away from their mobiles," she said.

O2 UK customers can be logged into the Tu Go service on up to five devices at once, said the operator. Incoming calls will ring all logged-in devices, including handsets using SIM cards associated with different networks and Internet-enabled gadgets such as iPods, according to BBC News.

Commenting on the launch of Tu Go, Ovum telco analyst Jeremy Green said that the app is more than just another "me too" VoIP app by an operator. "It delivers tangible differentiation for Telefónica and is a lesson for its peers in integration with carrier telephony services."

"Only available to O2 UK's postpaid customers, it is a cloud-based telephony service, allowing the user to register multiple devices and make and receive calls and messages from all of these as if from their telephone number. Any usage comes from the user's postpaid inclusive bundle. TuGo can therefore be used regardless of physical location over Wi-Fi using the user's home contract. This also makes it an FMC solution, because it will work indoors on Wi-Fi at places where mobile coverage is poor," said the Ovum analyst.

O2 UK CEO Ronan Dunne told Mobile News the operator was able to offer the service thanks to its acquisition of VoIP service provider Jajah in 2009.

The app is notable since a number of European operators have complained of "over the top" (OTT) apps like Skype and WhatsApp cutting into their voice and messaging revenues.

HD VoLTE Call with eSRVCC successfully completed by ZTE and CSL

​ZTE today announced it conducted a High Definition (HD) voice over LTE (VoLTE) call using enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) for Hong Kong’s leading mobile operator CSL.

With ZTE’s industry-leading technology solutions in 4G, CSL successfully conducted a HD VoLTE call hand-off to 3G with eSRVCC based pre-commercial network. HD voice will keep service continuity before and after hand-off. All network equipment used in this demonstration was provided by ZTE. This HD VoLTE call with end-to-end  QoS assurance provide highly reliable user experience and help operators differentiate their services from OTT competitors.

The Adaptive Multi Rate Wideband(AMR-WB) speech codec was supported in the HD VoLTE call demonstration. This HD voice speech codec provides improved speech quality due to a wider speech bandwidth from 50 to 7,000Hz and ensures no significant impact on radio-frequency capacity due to the efficiency of codec suitable. HD voice technology will significant promote the development of high quality voice service, such as speech recognition, speech-to-text and HD conferencing.

“VoLTE provides an improvement in spectral efficiency and is needed to increase network capacity and allow to re-farm the 3G spectrum in the future,” said Christian Daigneault, CSL Chief Technology Officer. “This HD VoLTE call using eSRVCC will shorten call set-up time, assure good handover to 3G where required and creates a better user experience for our customers. CSL has been the first to bring Dual Band LTE at 1800/2600 MHz in Asia and will continue to bring a superior network experience to its customers. The success of this demonstration is an important milestone in the development of LTE voice services in the mobile industry.”

“We are proud to work as a business partnership with CSL and this demonstration is testament to that.” said ZTE Core Network President Mr. Liu Jianhua. “We’ll continue to work with CSL to implement state-of-the-art solutions to help the company build a high-efficiency network for the Hong Kong market.”


Friday, 1 March 2013

Viber CEO takes on carriers' over-the-top attack. Could this be the beginning of a "revolution" !?

Editor comment: The discussion around Joyn market presence/ evolution, OTT and the competition between mobile operators has been on the TOP board. Could these news be the beginning of a larger partnership !? Like Deutsche Telekom and Spotify !? Should Joyn and OTT have the same level of QoS if the a partnership is created !?

Over-the-top services like Skype voice calls or Viber messaging sap carrier revenues. But Talmon Marco said users are just going where the innovation happens.

Carriers love to bash companies like Skype and WhatsApp that provide services on top of their mobile networks at the Mobile World Congress trade show. But one thing was different this year: Viber Media founder and Chief Executive Talmon Marco entered the lion's den to defend the idea.
Viber's free messaging service, which competes directly with carriers' own high-profit services for text- and multimedia-messaging services, is a prime example of the despised over-the-top (OTT) approach. Marco showed no remorse for sapping telco revenues and argued that users are just moving to where the innovative, useful services are taking place.

"There's no difference between the SMS of 1993 and 2013," Marco said, whereas in the two years since its launch, Viber has added group messaging, delivery confirmation, indicators that the other person is typing, location sharing, and high-quality photos. "We delight our users with cool new features." He backed up his case with the example of Monaco, 90 percent of whose 35,000 population uses Viber -- even though SMS is free in the country.
Marco spoke immediately after two telco chief executives, Deutsche Telekom's Rene Obermann and KT's Suk-Chae Lee, told of their unhappiness with OTT services. Carriers are held back by regulations that don't apply to OTT providers, for example. Obermann described how OTT companies see their relationship to carriers: "You invest, we take the profit." He and his peers have been saying this for years at this show and others, but he thinks sooner or later something has to give.
"It's not sustainable that the network makes all the investments and others just get a free ride," he said.

Lee said OTT services are bleeding away the business of KT, the largest mobile operator in South Korea, because it must invest more and more into its infrastructure but it doesn't reap the rewards.
"In the last four years, KT revenue has stagnated, but capex [capital expenditure spending] has increased to $4 billion from $3 billion before," he said. "The builders of this cyberspace, the telcos, may have to watch the space be dominated by the giant Internet players or the OTTs."
That's a stark contrast to Viber's business. "Our whole infrastructure costs under $200,000 a month," Marco said. Marco suggested a path to reconciliation, though: partnership. He said he won't pay the telcos for free services, but he's willing to share revenue for paid services.
"We're definitely prepared to share revenues when we charge users," Marco said.

Already Viber pays a percentage of its revenue to the app stores that distribute his company's app, but a carrier could step in and do the distribution, too. "That's 30 percent of our future revenues up for grabs by carrier. Come and take it," Marco said. Obermann seemed open to the idea, pointing to a partnership Deutsche Telekom has with music-streaming service Spotify. "We have a revenue share," Obermann said. "Users love it, and we have growing number of subscribers." Lee sounded more skeptical. OTT companies, in the long run, hurt economies that are increasingly dependent on the Internet. "Nobody can stop OTT," he said. "The question is, if it creates an economic cost burden to society, then somebody must take the burden."


Facebook to Offer Discounted Mobile Messaging

​On Sunday, Facebook unveiled partnerships with mobile operators around the world to provide free or discounted data access to Facebook messaging for their respective subscribers. Free or discounted data access will be available in the coming months on Messenger for Android, Messenger for iOS and Facebook for Every Phone, which is now optimized for chat.

The social networking giant said that this promotion will be available from more than 18 operators in 14 countries. Operators committed to special pricing for Facebook messaging include TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Airtel and Reliance in India, Vivacom in Bulgaria, Backcell in Azerbaydzhan, Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia, SMART in Philippines, DiGi in Malaysia, DTAC in Thailand, Viva in Bahrain, STC in Saudi Arabia, Oi in Brazil, Etisalat in Egypt, and Tre in Italy.

According to, when the deal kicks in, messaging via Facebook’s messenger service may turn out to be cheaper than texting in some countries. The report suggests that the feature will work on the Messenger app for Android or iPhone and the every phone service for basic phones.
Facebook said that messaging on Facebook lets people connect with friends and contacts on-the- go, regardless of what device they are using. Study indicates that three out of every four people on Facebook send a message on the platform each month, making messaging one of the most popular activities on Facebook.

Research data shows that today Facebook messaging and chat can be accessed from more than 6,000 mobile phones via Facebook Messenger, Facebook for iOS and Android, Facebook for Every Phone, and across other devices with Facebook integration.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

SKT and one million causes causes noises (from

Almost twelve months after Vodafone Spain became the first mobile operator to officially launch Joyn, South Korea’s SK Telecom has announced a fairly impressive one million users for its Joyn.T service, just 50 days after it was launched in December 2012.

SKT is the first of the seven operators that have launched Joyn services in four countries in the past twelve months to have announced user numbers, though it has not stated what proportion of the one million Joyn.T subscribers are active users. The operator made the Joyn.T Android application available for download from its T Store, but mobile subscribers can also download it from Google Play, from where the application had between 10,000-50,000 downloads in the 30 days to February 19, 2012.

The announcement is timely for the GSM Association given that it comes the week before the industry body’s Mobile World Congress, where Rich Communications Suite (RCS), and Joyn in particular, will likely be a key focus.

The SKT numbers also give Joyn a much-needed boost, coming as it does within weeks of Deutsche Telekom being forced to issue a clarification about its delayed launch of Joyn services in Germany. DT said that an error in translation resulted in the reporting of an “indefinite delay” in the launch of Joyn in Germany, which was originally scheduled for December 2012, when in fact the operator had simply declined to state a new launch date. Informa understands that DT is currently conducting a sizeable user trial of the live service on its network, and that a launch is imminent.

According to SKT, the GSMA said that the success of its Joyn.T launch will likely accelerate the commercialization of Joyn globally. Joyn services are already available from mobile operators in Spain (Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange), Germany (Vodafone) and the US (MetroPCS), as well as from SKT rivals LG Uplus and KT Freetel.

The GSMA stated at Informa’s Rich Communications event in Berlin in November that 30 operators in 18 countries had committed to launching Joyn services, not all of which were opcos of operators that have already launched services. However, by Informa’s own reckoning, just ten operators (and their subsidiaries) are planning launches on 24 networks in an additional 16 countries, not including Spain, Germany, the US and South Korea, where services have already launched.

Most recently, it’s been reported that Singapore’s Starhub is working with partner network Vodafone on a Joyn launch, scheduled for 2H13. It is likely that Starhub’s Joyn service will make use of Vodafone’s hosted RCS capability, with Vodafone recently stating that it is already helping seven partner and competitor networks deploy RCS-based services, with another seven networks and a mobile operator with a group of 13 networks in the pipeline.

But it remains to be seen whether those mobile operators who are doubtful about RCS services will be sufficiently convinced by the positive subscriber response to SKT’s launch of Joyn.T, especially since SKT’s success appears to be an isolated case. None of the other mobile operators that have launched Joyn services have disclosed user numbers, and Google Play data would tend to suggest that mobile subscribers have not rushed to download their respective Joyn applications. For example, both the Joyn by Vodafone and the Joyn by MetroPCS Android applications had between 100,000-500,000 downloads in the 30 days to February 19. That is an improvement since January 25, however, when the respective applications had between 50,000-100,000 downloads and between 10,000-50,000 downloads.

Meanwhile, the uptake of Joyn.T is particularly notable given that South Korea is also home to KakaoTalk, one of the first over-the-top messaging applications, which launched in March 2010 and which at last count had 75 million downloads. Indeed, it was the uptake of KakaoTalk (among others) that led to the demise of SKT’s Mobile Messenger service, which was launched in August 2006, and which then developed into an interoperable “pre-RCS” service in March 2009, alongside KT Freetel’s Show Messenger and LG Telecom’s Oz Messenger.

SKT initially offered Mobile Messenger for free, and the number of subscribers to the service grew from 216,000 in May 2009 to 1.2 million by June 2010, while monthly traffic increased from 13.5 million messages to 243 million messages during the same period. However, once SKT started charging for Mobile Messenger, user numbers and traffic fell dramatically, as subscribers migrated to the ‘free’ applications provided by KakaoTalk and others.

It is possible that a proportion of KakaoTalk users may switch back to Joyn.T. But KakaoTalk has in the meantime created additional revenue-generating consumer-facing services, such as branded emoticons (stickers) and games, and has also launched a digital publishing platform targeted at enabling brands and content providers to provide services and content to KakaoTalk users. In so doing, KakaoTalk has taken steps to differentiate itself from competitive plays (such as Joyn.T) in a bid to ensure it remains a relevant and preferred service for its users, and it is generating revenues from these services.

By contrast, it appears that SKT has accepted that initially, at least, Joyn.T will not be a directly revenue-generating service, and the operator has even extended the availability of Joyn.T as an unlimited, “free-for-life” service to smartphone users on flat-rate data plans; previously Joyn.T had been available for free to SKT’s 3G All-in-One and LTE  subscribers on flat-rate data plans. Data usage associated with Joyn.T messaging will also be free, including messages sent from Joyn.T devices to non-Joyn.T devices (smart-phones and feature-phones), which will be delivered as SMSes.

The operator is also offering its Joyn.T customers the ability to exchange content, sticker and emoticons via the rich messaging capability, but it has not disclosed whether these will be additional revenue-generating services.

SKT is looking ahead, however, and plans to link Joyn.T to its HD Voice VolTE service, and to open up its Joyn.T APIs to small-to-medium enterprises. The latter strategy should help SKT to generate additional revenues, as SMEs tap into the operator’s infrastructure in order to be able to offer Joyn.T-based applications and services such as games, social networking and mobile commerce.
At present, Joyn.T appears to be more of a customer retention strategy for SKT. Certainly, the operator is playing to its strengths in terms of its existing billing relationships with its mobile subscribers, and consequently its ability to be able to bundle access to Joyn.T with its mobile data plans.

But it remains to be seen whether offering Joyn.T for free is going to be enough to tempt SKT subscribers away from KakaoTalk, which has in the intervening years developed its offering beyond simply ‘free’ messaging, made its application available on multiple device OSes (Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Bada, WindowsPhone), and built up a substantial user base.


Report: Skype makes up one-third of all international phone traffic

Microsoft's Skype unit grew its international traffic by 44 percent in 2012, more than twice the volume growth achieved by all the phone companies in the world combined, according to a report from TeleGeography. The report found that global Skype usage is now equivalent to over one-third of all international phone traffic, Skype's highest level ever.

The report, which looks at trends in the international long distance market, highlights the growth of Skype and other over-the-top communication service providers. TeleGeography found that that "international telephone traffic grew 5 percent in 2012, to 490 billion minutes," while at the same time "cross-border Skype-to-Skype voice and video traffic grew 44 percent in 2012, to 167 billion minutes. This increase of nearly 51 billion minutes is more than twice that achieved by all international carriers in the world, combined." That means Skype traffic represented 34 percent of all international phone traffic last year, the firm said.

The above shows international call volumes and growth rates, 1992-2012, according to TeleGeography. The firm said data for 2012 are projections based on preliminary data. VoIP traffic reflects international traffic transported as VoIP by carriers, and excludes PC-to-PC traffic.

"The pressure on carriers will continue to mount in the coming years," TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckert said in a statement. "While Skype is the best-known voice application, it's far from the only challenger to the PSTN. Google (Talk and Voice), WeChat (Weixin), Viber, Nimbuzz, Line, and KakaoTalk have also become popular. And, perhaps most ominously for telcos, Facebook recently added a free voice calling feature to its Messenger application."

However, TeleGeography noted that not all of Skype's traffic represents a loss for traditional carriers, since over 40 percent of Skype's traffic is now video, "and it's likely that a meaningful share of this is 'new' traffic, rather than a direct replacement for a telephone call. However, given their enormous traffic volume, it's difficult not to conclude that at least some of Skype's growth is coming at the expense of traditional carriers."

TeleGeography found that if all of Skype's on-net traffic had been routed via traditional telcos, global international telephone traffic would have increased 14 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2012, rather than the 5 percent the market experienced in 2012.
In other Skype news, the company has started testing video messaging for iOS, Android, and Mac devices. The new video feature lets Skype users send up to three minutes of video to each other.

A Skype spokesperson said that the company's video messaging "is in early release for testing in several markets for Android, iOS, and Mac with functionality to send and receive video messages. Users in these markets across all Windows desktop and mobile platforms can receive messages, too. We will have send capability in Windows by end of April. In the meantime, we continue to test this new feature in its early release."

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