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.

Google Play:


More info: asdasdsa

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."

Direct download:


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

SK Telecom's Joyn service reaches 1million users

Operator enables Joyn subscribers to send instant messages to feature phone owners.

SK Telecom claimed on Monday that its joyn.T service has become the first RCS offering to surpass the 1 million subscriber mark.

The operator launched Joyn – the consumer-facing brand of the GSMA's Rich Communication Suite (RCS) – under the joyn.T brand in late December 2012. Since then it has tweaked the service so that data fees incurred from sending and receiving instant messages are not deducted from an end user's data allowance – a similar strategy that has been adopted by Joyn operators in Europe.

In addition, SK Telecom has also enabled subscribers to send Joyn messages to phones that do not have Joyn installed, which includes feature phones that are not compatible with the service. Any instant messages sent to a non-Joyn phone appear in the recipient's SMS inbox.

"SK Telecom aims to integrate all means of mobile communication into joyn.T to make it the most attractive choice for customers seeking an accurate and enriched communication service," said Wi Eui-Seok, EVP and head of product planning at SK Telecom, in a statement.

It will start by integrating joyn.T with its high-definition (HD) voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, which will become a standard feature on all phones sold by SK Telecom from March.
SK Telecom said it will also make its joyn.T APIs available to third parties in a bid to foster an ecosystem of entertainment, m-commerce and ICT services around its RCS offer.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Acme Packet and CounterPath Partner to Give Operators the Solution to the Internet OTT Threat

Acme Packet, the leader in session delivery networks, and CounterPath, a leading developer of award-winning desktop, tablet and mobile VoIP software products and solutions, today announced a joint solution based on CounterPath's market-leading Bria softphone and Acme Packet's market-leading Net-Net session border controller (SBC). The solution is targeted at service providers looking to extend service footprint and increase subscriber base by tapping into the growing demand for "over-the-top" (OTT) services that leverage the Internet for real-time voice and video communications.
News Highlights:
  • The joint solution is the first to leverage Acme Packet's implementation of an emerging standard known as Tunneled Service Control Function (TSCF), which delivers an infrastructure-based alternative for real-time, over-the-top (OTT) communications.

  • CounterPath's Bria mobile edition, a SIP-based softphone for Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, as well as Google Android, now integrates tunneling innovations from Acme Packet that enable increased secure connectivity, enhanced firewall traversal, and interoperability with Acme Packet's SBCs.

  • The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the standards organization that oversees the development of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), is currently working to standardize the TSCF function.

  • Acme Packet and CounterPath designed this solution for service providers looking to provide secure voice, video, IM, presence, and SMS to mobile apps -- with higher levels of quality and reliability than current solutions.

  • The joint solution helps customers extend the reach of their services by allowing tunneled sessions to traverse network borders, even in the presence of strict firewalls.

  • With Acme Packet's patent-pending tunnel redundancy, the solution improves media quality under adverse network conditions and the Internet, where packet loss is common. Both signaling and media are replicated to ensure the highest possible quality of experience.

  • The solution also features CounterPath's Client Configuration Server, which is used by service providers to deploy and provision the CounterPath mobile app.
Joint Solution Benefits:
  • Secure VoIP and video communications for mobile applications on iPhone, Android, and Windows devices
  • Maximum service reach with strict firewall traversal
  • High voice quality and surmount packet loss for off-net or OTT VoIP services
  • Call continuity across Wi-Fi and mobile networks
  • Open and standards driven tunneling technology for both signaling and media
  • Service provider-grade IP communications and security leveraging hardware assisted encryption and tunneling technologies
  • Protection against malicious attacks and non-malicious overloads for OTT services
  • Support for standard codecs, regardless of signaling or media type
  • "This partnership with Acme Packet only enhances our Telco-OTT offering to service providers with a high-quality, real-time solution that guarantees secure calls in even the strictest network environments. As a result, we believe this joint solution will provide a better experience than what Skype and other OTT players currently offer," said Todd Carothers, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Products, CounterPath. "This solution demonstrates our ongoing commitment to innovation as we continue to provide operators with the technology to beat Internet OTT offerings."

  • "In order to compete in the emerging telecommunications industry, traditional telephony providers must learn to embrace Internet philosophies and deliver new and differentiated services via a Telco-OTT model," said Dean Bubley, founder, Disruptive Analysis. "Acme Packet and CounterPath's joint solution enables service providers to strengthen their OTT service portfolio by improving quality and security."

  • "Traditional service providers are increasingly concerned with OTT providers taking subscribers away from their business," said Pat MeLampy, chief technology officer, Acme Packet. "This joint solution enables service providers to compete directly with other OTT offerings and keep customers on their networks. By choosing CounterPath, an industry leading VoIP technology, and Acme Packet, the market leader in SBCs, our customers can deliver all the benefits of OTT services, offer security and reliability, as well as simply interoperate with pre-existing services."
More about Acme Packet and CounterPath:

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Improved traffic distribution indicates that operators are managing assets more effectively

There are likely to be a few last-minute adjustments to slides before this year’s Mobile World Congress, given that the industry’s most popular traffic forecasts were downgraded. Last week, Cisco released its latest mobile data forecasts, which show a significant decline from previous estimates. The company has lowered its figures by more than 30 per cent in the period 2012-2016 compared with their figures published this time last year.

February 2013:
February 2012:

Some of the main reasons cited for the downgrade include
  • The implementation of tiered mobile data packages.
  • A slowdown in the number of mobile-connected laptop net additions.
  • An increase in the amount of mobile traffic offloaded to the fixed network. Cisco says that about 33 per cent of mobile traffic was offloaded to the fixed network in 2012.
  • Higher-than-expected tablet usage on wifi.

Although it is encouraging to see that Cisco has now brought its forecasts more into line with those of most other commentators, no one should be surprised to see further reductions as many of the points highlighted above bite down on future cellular usage.

Looking beyond the downgrade of its forecasts, another conclusion from the company’s research could bring much more positive news for the industry. Cisco has found that mobile data usage is becoming more evenly distributed among users. In 2010, the top one per cent of users generated 50 per cent of traffic; in 2012, the proportion dropped to 16 per cent, below the fixed-traffic ratio of 1:20 that has been evident for years.

Because of the dynamics of a growing market, this flattening of usage distribution was inevitable as we move to mass-market adoption; but the speed and scale at which it has occurred (according to Cisco) is surprising and just goes to show how fast the industry moves.
We can hypothesize a number of factors that have contributed to this change, including:

  • Targeting of extreme usage by operators through yield-management strategies such as fair-usage policies, data caps and throttling.
  • The increasing availability of free wifi acting as a substitute for cellular usage.
  • The natural limit of consumption of high-bandwidth data on cellular. This is something that we have been saying for a long time at Informa. Essentially, high-bandwidth applications, such as video, are more suited to stationary, indoor consumption, which is not the natural sweet spot for cellular.
  • The huge increase in the number of smartphone users attracted by affordable handsets and data plans
So why is this encouraging? Well, operators need to manage their core asset and scarce resource, namely bandwidth, as efficiently as possible. For years we’ve heard complaints about the “data hogs” that consume disproportionately large amounts of bandwidth for relatively low ARPU, but now it would seem that operators have been able to significantly modify usage to broaden the consumption on their networks. However, this is just part of the equation. Investors don’t care about traffic distribution: They want to see evidence that this traffic management translates into greater value.

The current reporting season has been littered with CEOs confirming that their traditional revenue streams of voice and SMS continue to fall against the relentless onslaught of free internet-communication services. Swisscom’s CEO believes that the company’s voice and SMS revenue will be gone within three years. If we strip away these declining revenue streams, we’re left with the future of an operator’s business, namely internet/data connectivity. To derive incremental value from this source, operators must therefore be able to differentiate the “data” they provide, a topic further explored in a recent Informa white paper, Understanding today’s smartphone user. We are indeed seeing evidence of progress in this area, and if you listen carefully, there are even murmurs that yield-management strategies are beginning to benefit bottom lines. For example, AT&T’s 4Q12 results show that the company now has “two thirds of smartphone subscribers on usage-based plans” (as opposed to all-you-can eat data plans) and cite take-up of these plans as a major contributor to increasing year-on-year wireless EBITDA by seven per cent.

It’s clear that it has never been more critical for operators to demonstrate that they can monetize their bandwidth, and although it’s taken a while, perhaps we’re now just starting to see real evidence of a more sustainable approach to network management and pricing in mobile. Cisco might have recently adjusted its view of the market but, thankfully, it would seem that operators have started to as well.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Report: Minimizing the OTT threat

The growing threat from over-the-top providers such as Netflix and YouTube has wireless operators on the defensive. Consumers are increasingly watching video content on their smartphones and tablets, rather than their TVs, and many are using services such as Netflix, YouTube and Hulu to access that content.

According to Nielsen's most recent cross-platform report, the amount of time Americans spent watching video via traditional TV rose less than 1 percent year-over-year as of third quarter 2012. Yet time spent watching video via the Internet increased 37 percent, while minutes spent by mobile subscribers watching video on a mobile phone rose 25 percent during the one-year period.

Of course, the big dilemma facing operators is that these services eat up valuable bandwidth on the network, which cuts into their bottom line. But there are alternatives. Some operators are deploying platforms and products that promise to make OTT content better and easier for consumers to access and will help operators monetize these content offerings.

Rich Communications Services or RCS is one solution operators are deploying in an attempt to circumvent the OTT threat. MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) is the first U.S. operator to commercially launch RCS, under the GSMA's joyn brand. According to MetroPCS, the service is humming along just fine despite the fact that Deutsche Telekom is said to be experiencing technical difficulties in Germany. DT has indefinitely delayed launching joyn there.

The jury is still out on whether the GSMA's RCS/joyn initiative will be successful. Although the trade group maintains that the service is gaining traction with 19 vendors offering RCS on a hosted basis others say that the RCS effort is too little, too late and doesn't solve all the challenges presented by OTT providers.

FierceWireless' latest  ebook, "Minimizing the OTT Threat," takes an in-depth look at the threat from OTT providers, and examines how operators are making progress in delivering content to their customers.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Deutsche Telekom indefinitely delays Joyn launch date, admits to technical issues

​Deutsche Telekom (DT) is indefinitely delaying the commercial launch of its Joyn RCS service after admitting that implementing the technology is taking much longer than originally expected.
The company had initially confirmed Oct. 1, 2012, as a launch date for Joyn services, but this then slipped to December and has now been delayed further due to complex integration issues, according to

Incorporating the Joyn software into DT's handset portfolio is a lengthy process that requires thorough testing, DT spokesman Dirk Turning told Wirtschafts Woche. "Our goal is, of course, to move as quickly as possible to bring Joyn to market," he said.
The problems appear to be focused on the Joyn messenger service and its lack of stability, the German website reported.

While the aim is to launch Joyn on Android-based handsets, DT is worried about the current fragmentation of the Google smartphone platform and ensuring that its Joyn services will work with other German operators and those elsewhere.

Vodafone Germany launched its Joyn service in August at the IFA event in Berlin--albeit in beta format on the Android platform, but has given no indication when an iPhone version might become available. Telefónica's O2 Germany has said it is committed to launching Joyn in the future, while E-Plus has given no sign regarding its intent.

Separately, WhatsApp, a major over-the-top messaging and social messaging rival to Joyn, has been criticised for breaching privacy rules following a joint investigation by Dutch and Canadian regulators, according to a BBC report.

Investigators said concerns centred on the messaging app asking smartphone users to enable access to their address book once they had downloaded the WhatsApp software. The privacy issue arose when the app transferred users' address book details to the WhatsApp servers, and failed to delete those belonging to people who had not signed up to the service.
"This practice contravenes Dutch and Canadian privacy law, which holds that information may only be retained for so long as it is required for the fulfilment of an identified purpose," the regulators said, according to the BBC.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority told the BBC it could take punitive action if U.S.-based WhatsApp does not change its software.


MetroPCS says joyn launch proceeding smoothly despite DT's troubles

MetroPCS said its deployment of Rich Communication Services under the GSMA's joyn brand is humming along just fine. The comments are notable considering the technical difficulties Deutsche Telekom is experiencing in Germany that have forced the carrier to indefinitely delay launching joyn there.

MetroPCS, the only U.S. carrier so far to have launched joyn, said all of its LTE handsets--including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Admire 4G, ZTE Avid and LG Spirit--now support joyn via a downloadable client available in Google's Play storefront.
MetroPCS spokesman Drew Crowell told FierceWireless that the company's plans for joyn remain unchanged, and that the carrier hopes to sell phones with joyn built in by the middle of this year. "We are working with handset OEMs to build-in joyn as a fully integrated feature, without the need for a download," he said.

Deutsche Telekom said earlier this week is indefinitely delaying the commercial launch of joyn in Germany after admitting that implementing the technology is taking much longer than originally expected. Incorporating joyn software into DT's handset portfolio is a lengthy process that requires thorough testing, DT spokesman Dirk Turning told Wirtschafts Woche. "Our goal is, of course, to move as quickly as possible to bring joyn to market," he said.

MetroPCS first launched joyn in late October. "As with any new service or feature rollout, there were challenges that needed to be addressed but we are proud to have been the first LTE operator to successfully launch RCS v. 5.0," Crowell said.
Crowell declined to provide usage statistics on MetroPCS' joyn users. MetroPCS has said the technology will allow users with compatible handsets to:
  • See when other users are available;
  • Conduct threaded text conversations;
  • Share content via one click from an address book;
  • Share video, images and files while on a call;
  • And conduct voice and video calls over Wi-Fi networks.
MetroPCS has said it launched joyn to enhance its customers' mobile experience and not necessarily to protect against losing messaging or data revenues--MetroPCS is not charging extra for the service. However, many European carriers have embraced joyn in order to stem losses to over-the-top messaging services like WhatsApp, Apple's iMessage and Facebook's Messenger.
Late last year in Spain Telefónica's Movistar, Orange Spain and Vodafone Spain jointly launched joyn service.
As operators rally around joyn, over-the-top providers continue to expand. For example, Facebook recently updated its Messenger app for iOS to support voice calling between Facebook users.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Facebook adds video recording, voice messaging to iOS app

Facebook is overhauling its flagship mobile social networking application for Apple's iOS, adding in-app video recording and sharing capabilities as well as voice messaging options.

Although consumers could previously upload video clips directly to Facebook accounts from their iOS device photo roll, the Facebook for iOS 5.4 update implements the functionality directly into the app, promising a smoother, more efficient user experience. The built-in video recording and sharing features also mirror functionality found in rival Twitter's new Vine video app, which launched last week--The Verge states that Facebook app updates are released on a strict schedule, suggesting the timing of the latest revamp is likely coincidental, although it's worth noting that Facebook has already blocked Vine from accessing its network.

Facebook for iOS 5.4 also brings voice recording options previously available in the company's standalone Messenger apps for iOS and Google's Android; potential use case scenarios for the new feature include hands-free messaging or more complex messages that are too long and detailed to type as conventional texts. Facebook is additionally improving the iOS app's Nearby tab, which suggests local businesses and landmarks based on the user's interests and preferences.

Facebook is now the most popular application in the U.S. with 85.6 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore data released last week. Facebook also dominates user engagement rankings, accounting for 23 percent of all time spent on mobile apps each month. Facebook-owned photo sharing Instagram occupies another 3 percent of users' time.

For more:
- read this Verge article


Facebook new update brings even more signaling to the networks

Recent analysis from Alcatel Lucent says that new update (from November 15th) brings even more signaling load to mobile networks. Should facebook allow the user to trigger/ defined how "chatty" is the app and optimize Costumer Experience ?

On November 15, Facebook released new versions of their mobile app for Android and iOS. Prior to the new release, Facebook signaling and airtime already accounted for 10% and 15% of the overall load on 2G/3G networks, respectively.  As users around the world updated and started to use this new version, we quickly noticed a dramatic increase of almost 60% in the signaling load and 25% in the airtime consumed by the Facebook application.  During the same period,  the number of Facebook users increased by only 4%.

Clearly, it is not the swelling of Facebook’s community that intensified the load, but rather the introduction of new Facebook features for mobile users and underlying platform changes.

Total Daily Signaling & Airtime per Facebook Traffic Type (click for full size)

The effect on service provider networks was significant, driving up overall (total) signaling traffic and airtime consumption by 5-10%.  An application design change by Facebook can be innocuous for fixed line and WiFi users, but can significantly boost the cost of delivery for mobile service operators.   This 5-10% increase in signaling and/or airtime translates directly into a 5-10% increase in radio capacity requirement (i.e. CAPEX investment) to continue delivering the same service.

So this is obviously of concern to a mobile operator, but why should Facebook care?  The simple answer – you!  Higher signaling and airtime usage can directly affect battery life.  While today, the increase is likely too small to impose noticeable threat to battery life, we did see a huge jump in signaling with this release.  If signaling continues to increase at this rate in future releases, a large portion of users may start to notice that they need to charge up more frequently.

Another trend we detected was an increase in popularity of Facebook video traffic — a whopping 350% increase in volume since the November 15th launch — the most growth of all Facebook traffic. Unlike signaling where the updated software was responsible for the increase,  this change is driven by more users enjoying new features such as sharing their news feeds.   It is interesting that Facebook-chat traffic decreased during that same period (17% fewer users),  indicating that users formerly using chat to communicate might be starting to use Messenger and embedded videos (+6% and +154% more users, respectively).  While insignificant from a signaling perspective, the growing appetite for high bandwidth applications like video means service providers must account for bandwidth growth as the use of video continues to rise.

Portion of Overall Daily Airtime and Signaling due to Facebook (click for full size)

The bottom line – as we continue to feed our mobile applications habit, app developers will need to better consider the implications of their design decisions on the wireless network resources.  Optimizing signaling has big benefits for both the service providers and consumers –  including better user experience at a more reasonable price and a big one for all of us — longer battery life.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Report: LTE access will save UK consumers £20B over next decade

​The wide-scale deployment of LTE in the UK will save consumers £20 billion by providing them with access to high-speed mobile services, according to a report from telecoms regulator Ofcom.
Ofcom maintains the advantage access to LTE will bring to the UK public and the economy will "very significantly" exceed the immediate financial windfall raised by the auction, according to the Financial Times.

"Ofcom's LTE auction is designed to deliver the maximum benefit to the UK," Ofcom chief Ed Richards told the FT. "We believe that this is likely to be at least £20 billion over the next 10 years for consumers alone who will be able to access new digital services across the country."
"It will also make a very significant contribution to the UK GDP through new mobile revenues, employment opportunities and software development," he said.

Asked how Ofcom had calculated this huge saving, its economists told the FT they had used a "consumer surplus" figure--a measure of the benefit that consumers gain from purchasing goods and services, a method often used when evaluating the market impact of government intervention.
Bidding has started for the UK's LTE spectrum auction, which will see the companies bidding for frequencies in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands. EE, Vodafone, Telefónica's O2 UK and 3UK are all bidding, as is BT, Hong Kong's PCCW and managed networks firm MLL Telecom. While the UK government has publicly said the auction is expected to produce £3.5 billion in revenue, analysts have estimated that the amounts raised could be between £2 billion and £4 billion.

Ofcom, which is running the auction process, would not confirm the £3.5 billion figure, but added that the aim was for at least four different operators to win adequate spectrum to operate national LTE networks.

EE, Vodafone, O2 and 3UK are most likely to compete fiercely to secure the prime lower frequency bands better able to carry mobile internet services. The other three bidders--BT, PCCW and MLL--are expected to vie for higher frequencies more suitable for local area mobile broadband.
According to Ofcom, bids are being placed online over secure connections, using software that has been developed specifically for the auction. The bidding will continue over several rounds and is expected to take a number of weeks until the final winners are announced.
For more:
- see this FT article (sub. req.)


Study: OTT is an opportunity as operators look to boost revenues through alliances

​Marketers in the $1.3 trillion global telecommunications industry are being both challenged and enabled by free over-the-top (OTT) communications service providers, such as Google, Skype and Facebook. A new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council study, conducted in partnership with HP, shows that while these companies are supplying customers with sophisticated web-based features that are competing with fixed and mobile operators, OTT players are also being courted for partnerships and revenue-sharing opportunities by traditional communications services providers (CSPs).
Besides the legacy local and long-distance wire line phone services, the CSP sector also includes wireless communications, Internet services, fiber optics networks, cable TV networks and commercial satellite communications.

Some 44 percent of telco marketers who participated in the CMO Council's new "Profitability From Subscriber Acuity" study during the second to fourth quarters of 2012 are actively exploring OTT partnerships and revenue-sharing opportunities. In addition, 31 percent are identifying potential revenue streams from new products or services that can be offered to OTT players, including subscriber analytics and behavioral insights. This represents a significant shift in the mindset of telco marketers. Just one year ago, a CMO Council study dubbed "Dexterity From Subscriber Complexity" reported that OTT represented a threat, not an opportunity. In that study, 88 percent of executives considered OTT innovators as competitors, and only 6 percent were actively forging partnerships.
"This shift tracks with marketing's role of leading the charge for new market and revenue opportunities," said Liz Miller, Vice President of Programs for the CMO Council. "What is clear from this study is that marketing has been tasked with owning the customer experience and driving bottom-line revenue improvements. Considering that research has put the potential revenue loss from OTT starting at $13.8 billion in 2011 alone, it is not surprising that telco marketers see OTT as an opportunity to exploit."

While 222 CSP marketers participating in the study have oversight across the majority of customer touchpoints that most impact customer experience, they are still seeking deeper views into key front-line areas like customer support, in-store strategy and channel management. To facilitate the flow of information and processes across these areas, marketing is also taking a more active role in identifying key technology platforms and solutions as 38 percent of respondents serve as the key decision makers while an additional 38 percent serve as key influencers in the technology selection process.

But despite the significant commitment to advancing the customer experience, marketers are being stymied by a lack of visibility and insight into critical areas of intelligence and analytics. Only 5 percent of marketers have access to an automated solution that leverages data and intelligence to enable improved decisions or personalize individual engagements.
This leaves most organizations to rely on:
  • Monthly meetings where insights and intelligence are shared with senior management (59 percent)
  • Monthly customer insight and analytics reports (57 percent)
  • Analytics dashboards with limited general user profile information (43 percent)
"This lack of visibility into the key drivers of customer behavior leaves a significant opportunity to drive incremental revenue and improve engagement performance," said Miguel Carrero, Director of Actionable Customer Intelligence Solutions, HP Enterprise Services. "Marketing is being asked to sway behaviors but simply does not have the tools needed to make those core decisions effectively. However, this research also shows that above all else, marketers understand what they need to be more effective and what points of measurement will enable real change and improvements in the customer experience."
Additional key findings from the report show that:
  • Marketing is deeply involved in identifying and developing business opportunities, including new pricing plans or new products and services. Twenty-nine percent are driving the process while 36 percent are deeply involved as the key contributor.
  • Fifty-four percent of marketers are being brought into the pricing and product development discussion from the very start of the process versus 9 percent who feel they are brought in too late in the cycle.
  • Siloed data is the top reason marketers feel held back in their ability to influence and optimize pricing models. This is followed by the lack of a complete view of the customer (39 percent) and a corporate mindset that is resistant to change (37 percent).
  • Nearly one in four marketers feels as if he or she is introducing new pricing plans to customers all the time and is heavily leveraging in-store engagements, email and advertising in both traditional and online channels. Unfortunately, half of respondents feel these channels are only moderately effective.
The detailed findings of this study, along with summaries of in-depth interviews with marketing leaders from global CSPs including AT&T, Bell Canada, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, MTN, Optus, Orange, Sprint, STC VIVA, Telefonica, Telstra, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone are included in the 90-page comprehensive report, now available for download from (  The study is outlined question by question through summary findings and detailed charts and also includes an infographic.

VoLTE – 4G’s next big test (Opinion from Anite)

​In 2012, SKT and LG U+ in South Korea, as well as MetroPCS in the United States, all announced the launch of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) networks. Equally, in recent months, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 10.1, complete with VoLTE capability. However, despite the apparent commercial readiness of VoLTE services, Paul Beaver, Products Director at device test and measurement specialists, Anite, suggests that “Over the Top” (OTT) providers of Voice over IP (VoIP) services still remain a very real threat to mobile operators. In order to combat this threat, operators will need to differentiate themselves from OTT players, through the provision of a top quality voice service. The delivery of this high level of service quality, as well as the speed at which VoLTE will enter the market is, as Beaver explains, indivisibly linked to the evolution of testing.

Mobile voice goes over the top – The current VoLTE market

Global LTE deployments are continuing to rise and the technology is gaining ever more market recognition. However, LTE possesses a key limitation that the industry is increasingly looking to resolve – voice. Even in light of VoLTE launches in South Korea and the United States, the majority of LTE networks are still only able to support data and cannot handle voice calls – instead the user is transferred to a legacy 2G/3G network whenever they want to make a call. This situation is counter intuitive, considering that traditionally, the principal role of a mobile operator is to supply voice services. While LTE networks have been primarily launched in order to cater for the increasing market demand for data services, the omission of voice services has nevertheless left operators in a vulnerable position.

If operators fail to develop solutions that will allow voice calls to be made over LTE networks then they will be unable to decommission legacy networks. This will leave them unable to benefit from the superior spectrum utilisation and cost efficiency that LTE offers over legacy technologies. Equally, this failure would impact on user experience, with call setup delays and unreliability when switching to the legacy network all impacting on the operators’ ability to provide a top quality voice service. In turn, this poor service quality will put operators at risk of losing their position as the primary suppliers of premium voice services, leaving OTT players ideally placed to supersede them in the mobile voice market.

Industry challenges – Quality control for VoLTE

It is undoubtedly early days for VoLTE, and the technology remains largely at the trial stage. Currently, device manufacturers, chipset vendors and operators are all putting VoLTE through its paces. Because of VoLTE’s technological infancy, there is a diverse range of interpretations among mobile operators, in terms of how best to integrate VoLTE in networks and devices. This wide range of different implementations may present a significant challenge to operators in terms of interoperability. Equally, while roaming may be taken for granted with legacy technologies, it is not guaranteed to work for VoLTE unless these interoperability issues can be resolved, and as a result the current expected levels of service quality may be compromised.

Although the industry in general – and the GSMA in particular – is working towards a harmonisation to ensure VoLTE is applied in a consistent way, there is currently no ‘one size fits all’ VoLTE solution for operators. So in order to overcome this challenge operators must undertake a rigorous programme of VoLTE testing. By testing in the laboratory, operators can incorporate a diverse range of variable conditions into their test programmes. Full network roaming capability will eventually need to be enabled for VoLTE, and owing to diverse interpretations of the technology, this will only seek to present further interoperability challenges for the industry. Again, thoroughly testing devices for interoperability in the lab will play a key role in achieving full network roaming capability for VoLTE programmes. Device Manufacturers will need to ensure that VoLTE does not have a detrimental effect on device performance, and that devices are capable of handling VoLTE calls upon their introduction to the market. Regardless of the network infrastructure, mobile subscribers will continue to expect a carrier grade voice service on their mobile device. A ‘best effort’ VoIP type service will not suffice and operators will have to ensure that VoLTE offers excellent levels of quality and performance. If VoLTE fails to provide this level of service then it is liable to gain a negative perception among consumers.

The road ahead – VoLTE takes a test drive
By leveraging lab-based testing, mobile operators, chipset vendors and device manufacturers can make use of a cost effective, simulated network environment to test both component interoperability and overall service quality. In adopting this approach, operators are no longer reliant on live network testing and costly, time consuming device field trials. Moreover, lab based testing can ensure that VoLTE operates entirely as expected, and in turn, this will help to advance VoLTE devices to market and ultimately safeguard customer satisfaction, by ensuring first class levels of service.
Ultimately, VoLTE’s long term success will be determined by its ability to deliver carrier grade voice services across an all-IP network, and on the latest LTE devices. However, a level of cooperation within the mobile industry is vital if VoLTE is to emerge as a commercial viability. The speed at which LTE can be deployed and its level of service quality are all inextricably linked to the evolution of testing; as well as the desire amongst operators to consolidate services on LTE and eventually migrate all of their subscribers to LTE, freeing up the spectrum that  is currently taken up by legacy technology.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

When the Amount of Internet Based Mobile Messages Equals SMS

Tyntec, a mobile interaction specialist, today released the results of a study conducted in association with GigaOM Research, naming 2013 as the year IP-based mobile messaging will equal the popularity and ubiquity of SMS. The research shows that nearly 10 trillion SMS and IP mobile messages will be sent in 2013, predicting parity for the first time. This follows a year of significant adoption in consumer-based Internet mobile messaging, driven in part by the global uptake of OTT (over the top) technologies such as WhatsApp and Facebook Chat.

The research, which can be downloaded here, shows that this trend is set to continue, with the number of IP-based messaging subscribers already surpassing SMS user numbers in 2012, and 1.8 billion users sending 15 trillion messages per year by 2016.

As users continue to migrate to lower cost messaging services for person-to-person (P2P) communication, they are forced to switch between IP-based messaging and SMS due to the lack of interoperability and inconsistent delivery associated with IP-based messaging. The report also shows that despite the popularity of newer IP-based messaging services, SMS will continue to grow by 5 percent CAGR until 2016. This growth is due in part to Internet companies, social networks and enterprises continuing to take advantage of SMS's ubiquity, interoperability and global reach for Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging. For example, Google relies on SMS in emerging markets to deliver emails and verify authentication. Similarly, mobile money applications use SMS to post transactions and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, also use SMS to publish updates.

The report concludes that the growth of IP-based messaging and SMS solutions have ultimately reached an impasse and will be forced to converge as end-users continue to demand more streamlined messaging. GigaOm Research suggests that virtual phone numbers are a promising solution to the fragmentation, as these provide a universal identifier to seamlessly converge the two technologies.

Virtual phone numbers offer interoperability to IP-based messaging services enabling users to transmit and receive messages regardless of the delivery mechanism. For example, a WhatsApp user would traditionally have to close the app and send a message via SMS to a non-WhatsApp user. By utilizing virtual phone numbers, messages would be sent seamlessly between devices without the user having to worry about choosing the appropriate delivery technology (e.g. SMS, WhatsApp, iMessage) and consumers would benefit from a smoother and more satisfying user experience. Similarly, carriers can take advantage of the shifting market by actively promoting virtual phone numbers to OTT players. This would both enable and promote seamless global communication while providing carriers with an entry point to the OTT / cloud telephony market. This convergence of messaging technologies allows OTT players and carriers to leverage each other's strengths in the value chain, providing enhanced scalability, delivery and innovative interfaces for end users while mobile operators gain additional international, rich SMS and voice traffic revenues from the OTT and web 2.0 markets.

"The rapid uptake and flexibility of IP technology and the reliability and ubiquity of SMS messaging will keep these technologies both competitive and complimentary," said Peter Crocker, GigaOm Research analyst, founder and principal analyst at Smith's Point Analytics. "However, the advent of IP and new players is also creating fragmentation which is bad news for operators, Internet companies and users alike. Converged messaging through virtual phone numbers seems to be a natural way to address this problem because they provide a unique identity to enable interoperability and global reach for all parties."

"While IP-based messaging services such as WhatsApp are grabbing all the headlines because of their growth, it's important to remember that they share the same core purpose of SMS, convenient and reliable end-user communication," said Thorsten Trapp, Co-founder and CTO of tyntec. "By integrating the IP and mobile SMS world, companies can drive revenues and increase demographic and geographic reach quickly and simply. This is why virtual numbers will be so important in 2013 and beyond."


Tablets, smartphones to fuel doubling of mobile marketing revenues

The explosion of tablet and smartphone use has spurred the migration of e-commerce to m-commerce, particularly in North America and Western Europe.

Retailers are predicted to spend $55 billion annually on mobile marketing by 2015, double the amount expected this year, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

In addition, couponing apps have become an increasingly popular way to distribute and store coupons, the report noted. In addition, mobile devices are being integrated into in-store retail strategies through augmented reality and near field communications.
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At the same time, many retailers have not optimized their sites for mobile browsing, registration or payment.

"If retailers truly want to maximize the mobile monetization opportunity, then optimization is critical. If you are using mobile advertising for consumer acquisition, you need to push users to a site with which they can comfortably interact; retailers that fail to respond to consumer demand will fall behind," commented report author Windsor Holden.

Holden advised brands to integrate their marketing campaigns across mobile social networking sites such as Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Foursquare and to limit mobile ad frequency, and to prevent overexposure.
In a report released earlier this month, Gartner predicted that mobile ad revenue would reach $24.5 billion in 2016, creating opportunities for mobile app developers and platform providers, as well as specialty agencies, ad networks and communications service providers.

Andrew Frank, research vice president at Gartner, agreed with Holden that tablets and smartphones are fueling the mobile advertising market "in more and more geographies as an increasing population of users spends an increasing share of its time with these devices."

It's time for mobile app developers and platform providers to tap into the opportunities being created by mobile advertising, whether delivered through the Internet or in the store through NFC.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The end of an era for SMS as IP-based messaging goes from strength to strength

The challenge for operators is to create a strong user experience and give subscribers little reason to go elsewhere.

SMS generated extraordinary profits for many years, but now looks unsustainable as smartphone penetration increases and a range of IP-based alternatives become available. Speculation concerning the fate of mobile operators' 'cash cow' is increasing. In Analysys Mason's recent report, Operator and OTT voice and messaging services in Western Europe: forecasts and analysis 2012–2017, we provide our outlook for the messaging market, for both legacy SMS and for emerging IP-based alternatives.

A large and increasing proportion of mobile users are adopting alternative messaging services, whether cross-platform messaging applications such as WhatsApp Messenger, or platform-specific services such as Apple's iMessage or RIM's BlackBerry Messenger. Usage within closed user groups is typically free of charge or for a low annual subscription fee, so the pricing of these services is clearly attractive in comparison with operator-provided SMS. Users are also attracted to added features such as presence. The greatest impact has been in countries where the SMS market is weak. According to our latest survey data, 63% of smartphone owners in Spain used alternatives at October 2012.1  Anecdotally, penetration in the Netherlands is at a similar level.

The ready availability of low-cost alternatives together with the prevalence of large, flat-rate SMS bundles means that messaging revenue for operators in most Western European countries will no longer increase. The SMS market in Western Europe is in decline: at a regional level, revenue has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2011. We believe that retail messaging revenue peaked in 2011 (see Figure 1) and will decline rapidly in most Western European countries thereafter. We are usually reluctant to forecast inflection points around the base year, in this case 2011. In the case of messaging services, we believe that this is well-founded.

Figure 1: Messaging revenue by type and its share of total mobile revenue, Western Europe, 2009–2017 [Source: Analysys Mason, 2013]

Overall, we expect messaging revenue to decline by 39% between 2011 and 2017. In Spain, which has the highest prices and the lowest volumes, we expect the level of messaging revenue in 2017 to be barely a quarter of what it was in 2011. Traffic substitution will be faster than revenue substitution because operators will continue to allocate revenue from bundles to messaging, regardless of actual usage.

Operators are belatedly investing in their messaging services in an attempt to retain some competitiveness. They are responding to the increased availability of alternatives by offering their own IP-based messaging services and are adopting three main approaches.
  • RCS/joyn is specified by the GSMA and is the industry's official response. The service is typically rolled out as a co-ordinated operator response with interoperability as a marketable feature. This approach is gaining momentum in countries where the SMS market is under strong pressure and the argument for self-cannibalisation is easier to make.
  • 'Telco OTT' services are proprietary services offered by operators following an OTT model. Services are either developed in-house (often with the help of a specialist vendor) or offered using a white-label service. Many operators are using 'telco OTT' services to address specific market niches that are seen as vulnerable to substitution. Some of the major players are experimenting with both RCS/joyn and 'telco OTT' approaches.
  • Partnership with a provider of alternative messaging services is an option for many operators. The brand strength of the partner is chiefly used to support the operator's data proposition rather than bolster the existing messaging service. This approach particularly appeals to smaller, disruptive players with less exposure in legacy revenue.
Self-cannibalisation is becoming acknowledged as the preferred strategy for most operators as they revamp their messaging services to compete in a data-centric mobile market. The challenge for operators is to create a strong user experience and give subscribers little reason to go elsewhere. Despite these efforts, non-operator-provided OTT messaging services will continue to grow strongly from 2012 to 2017. We expect service penetration of smartphones to increase to nearly 60% in Western Europe by 2017, whereas we expect operator-provided IP-based services to reach around 35% of smartphone users in the same period.


Monday, 14 January 2013

The Telco Innovation Toolbox: Economic Models for Managing Disruption and Reinventing the Telco

The paper introduces novel economic thinking that is the result of over 2 years of research of ecosystem economics and telco disruption from VisionMobile in association with Ericsson.

The paper introduces ten economics and strategy frameworks that will help operators to accelerate their “digital” strategies, make the right innovation investments and avoid costly mistakes.

The topic of telco disruption brought upon by over-the-top (OTT) players is high on telecom industry agenda. However few realize that telcos are being disrupted because the basis of competition in mobile has fundamentally changed. It has changed from “reliability and scale of networks” to “choice and flexibility of services”, driven by the transition from “mobile telephony” to “mobile computing”.

The change is fundamental and irreversible.

The telecom industry is facing a conundrum today: providing undifferentiated voice, text and data services to smartphone users leads to a competition on price and diminishing margins. At the same time, staying in business requires that telcos keep up with ever-growing demand for data and continued investments in building wireless capacity. Investments in networks are still necessary, but they alone are no longer sufficient for profitable growth. What’s next?

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen recently said: “I think, as a general rule, most of us are in markets that are booming. They are not in decline. Even the newspaper business is in a growth industry. It’s not in decline. It’s just their way of thinking about the industry that is in decline.”

The telecom industry too can greatly benefit from looking at familiar challenges from a new perspective. Telecom is a booming industry with ever-growing demand for mobile data and a rising number of subscribers. But the basis of competition in mobile has changed putting pressure on legacy business models. Building networks alone can no longer guarantee profitable growth for telecom operators. Competing head-on with asymmetric business models of OTT players won’t help either. Instead, seizing the full potential of this booming industry means leveraging mobile digital ecosystems to create meaningful differentiation, lock-in for core telco services and incremental revenues. This requires an understanding of ecosystem economics, development of new organisational capabilities and resetting the KPIs for “digital” initiatives.

The Telco Innovation Toolbox introduces ten important economic models and strategy frameworks that will help operators to make the right choices in their innovation investments and accelerate their efforts to reinvent telco business. We describe ecosystem economics in the context of telco business in chapters 1 to 4, discuss the impact of traditional financial tools and the need for new innovation processes and KPI in chapters 5 and 6, and finally suggest how to leverage ecosystems to the benefit of the telco business in chapters 7 to 10.

Download Report:


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Mobile operators should slow down rollout of VoLTE

Ovum analyst Jeremy Green is advising mobile operators to slow down on the rollout of mobile VoIP over 4G LTE networks because there are still service and supply issues to work out, and no compelling services or revenue opportunities.

Green advised operators to focus on data services over their high-speed wireless networks in the short term. In the long term, VoLTE will provide network efficiency and costs savings, he added.

"While there are some questions about how to provide voice services during the interim period when the LTE network sits alongside legacy 3G and even 2G networks, there is general agreement that the ultimate destination is a solution based on the IP multimedia subsystem, which is now designated as VoLTE--'voice over LTE'," Green wrote.

Service parity issues, such as support for emergency calls and in-call handover between LTE and other networks, are holding operators back from deploying VoLTE. There is also an insufficient number of devices out there that support VoLTE and problems with device performance, such as battery drain.

"The service benefits of VoLTE also appear to be tenuous," Green wrote. "Even if RCS services were a sure-fire winner (and this is by no means an established certainty), their deployment is largely unrelated to LTE, as the few commercial deployments to date largely demonstrate. It is a similar situation with HD voice, which can be deployed on both LTE and non-LTE networks," he explained.

At the same time, factors that are driving operators toward early VoLTE deployment include network and spectrum efficiencies, eliminating the need for a separate voice network, improving call setup times and the offering new services, such as high-definition voice, simultaneous data usage and rich communication suite services.

Green advised operators to stay engaged with VoLTE, but not to rush into deployment. In the case of VoLTE, the early bird does not catch the worm, he added.

For more: