Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mozilla takes WebRTC further at Mobile World Congress but just wait until it goes mobile

WebRTC was one of the big stories at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few weeks back.  We’ve been on top of this trend for a while, pushing the service and revenue possibilities for operators.

Mozilla – along with AT&T and Ericsson – made the biggest WebRTC splash with their proof-of-concept demonstration linking a Firefox browser with a user’s mobile contacts list and the underlying IMS network, with its find and connect functionality, allowing for direct calls to mobile phones from the browser.

Integrating the phone number is an especially nice touch, as it could solidify the number as the universal identifier of choice amidst a scattered OTT landscape of confusing and multiple sign-ins.

Analyst Dean Bubley writes that WebRTC is “one of the most exciting and pivotal technologies” he’s seen in a decade.  He also says WebRTC has the potential to benefit most players in communications business, including operators:

“The breadth of companies involved – including Google, Ericsson, Cisco, Telefonica and AT&T – spans both traditional telecoms, enterprise communications and the web. We will see web access added by telcos, for example for IMS access from the browser. And we will also see realtime voice and video communications added by to the web inside social networks, or allowing informal “call centre” functions on normal websites.”

As hot as WebRTC and HTML5 – which WebRTC builds on – are now, we see the real revolution coming when it truly goes mobile. As a tool to encourage developers and highlight the possibilities of WebRTC, Ericsson released the first WebRTC-enabled mobile browser last year. And it looks like mobile WebRTC-enabled applications will disrupt OTT players (and native app builders) far more than they will disrupt established operators.

After all, who needs a standalone messaging or VoIP app when you can just make a call to anybody through the browser?  Of course, this means challenges for operators too, and they can use this opportunity for collaboration and competition to leverage in communication services.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dancing VoLTE style with Psy to build an indispensable telco platform

In 2013, nothing says you’ve hit the commercial mainstream more than going Gagnam Style with Korean rapper Psy.  So it was fun to stumble across a commercial the superstar made for the South Korean operator LG U+.

What’s especially fascinating here is the fact that LG U+ is promoting VoLTE so explicitly.  There have been doubts in some quarters about whether VoLTE was anything but a replacement service.  We disagree with that, of course. We see VoLTE, in conjunction with RCS, as an indispensable platform to deliver HD voice, video and multimedia services across multiple devices and access technologies.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Telefónica demonstrated a seamless voice call handover from a 4G to a 3G mobile network, and they summed its strengths up nicely in a release:

“A key advantage of VoLTE is that it can be combined with several enhanced IP-based services such as High Definition Voice, presence, location, and Rich Communication Suite (RCS) additions like instant messaging, video share and enhanced phone books. Moreover, VoLTE enables prioritization over other data streams to deliver consistently high quality service levels.”

In short, VoLTE is a way for telcos to build on their historic strengths as they enter the all-IP age, so it’s nice to see LG U+ taking it up Gagnam Style. The company has competition in the Korean VoLTE market too.  SK Telecom launched VoLTE at the same time as LG U+ last year, and it is aggressively pushing both HD voice and the RCS-based service joyn, in conjunction with VoLTE. 

And now that we’ve brought up HD voice, we also see it gaining some traction with the public.  It might not be Psy-level, but GSMA made HD voice T-shirts that were distributed at the Mobile World Congress.

And that makes us want to dance “VoLTE style” with Psy once again.