The operators, vendors and handset makers behind “joyn” – the new GSMA branding of RCS services like instant messaging and voice calling – weren’t the only ones getting together at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. At the same time, a wide array of mobile operators and telecom equipment vendors announced a broad initiative behind a new set of standards for high definition video conferencing.
These new standards were on display in a HD video conferencing demonstration between Telefónica's booth in Barcelona, an Orange site in France, a Telecom Italia site in Italy and a Deutsche Telekom site in Germany.
According to the press release, the new video standard is based on 3GPP IMS and uses GSMA IPX to interconnect. And behind this nice use of standardized technology is an ambitious but crucial goal: making video conferencing as easy as making a phone call.
The video below is a year old, but it gives you an idea of the possibilities:
This ease of use is crucial, as video conferencing is often seen as the next big thing, with the market just waiting for prices to come down and standards to be set. This is a field in which operators still hold some important strategic cards, like interoperability, the ability to set standards, and control over their networks.
There is a clear trend here, one of telco cooperation, after a decade of brutal competition (and the failure of MMS because of a lack of interoperability).
Let’s not forget that even Apple and Skype only reach a small percentage of the overall market.
These new standards could have their first big impact in enterprise, where the available proprietary solutions cost too much, and operators have the potential to offer companies high quality video services with good interoperability.
And if operators can succeed in enterprise, evolving HD video conferencing into a mass market service would be a natural, and very lucrative, path.