We expect to hear much about OTT messaging and how telcos can ‘get in’ on it at MWC14. Long story short: OTT (or independent) service providers are doing enormously well at messaging, voice and conferencing services. The telco effort here - the ill-fated Rich Communications Services (RCS) - far less so. And, just to close off the options, net neutrality (or the threat of net neutrality) means operators can’t try and marginalise the competition with surcharges, throttling, and so on.
What to do? The most sensible approach must be to work with the OTT grain and adopt the successful technologies and approaches where appropriate and bolt them (again, where and if appropriate) into the telco’s existing services and back office estate.
The result might be seen as a ‘hybrid’ approach to OTT and IP-based services, but this is surely the approach that at least has a good chance of working.
One telco supplier adopting this approach (and I’m sure there will be more like this at MWC14) is Acision, whose CEO, Adolfo Hernandez, I spoke to in the run-up to the conference.
According to Adolfo the industry is at a bit of a turning point.
“The market has been changing drastically over the past six to 12 months,” he told me. “There’s been a shift in the tectonic plates and we have to sort of regroup to make some strategic moves that build on what we’re good at. “
Adolfo could be talking about both Acision and the industry as a whole - what he advocates and what Acision is going to support, is a hybrid approach to messaging which will see the adoption of a ‘best of both worlds’ approach.
“We’re going from being a back-end software provider only, to looking at how we can use apps and front-end software with our highly reliable back-end,” he said.
For Acision that means producing a carrier-grade solution but not having the aspriation to be the brand itself - it will ‘white label’ its system to its customers.
“We see messaging solutions with automatic fallback to RCS being popular with customers.”
At MWC it plans to announce Fuze, its new “all-in-one, telco-friendly rich communication client for messaging, sharing and beyond”.
Fuze combines chat, file sharing, video and VoIP, alongside integration with WebRTC (real time communications), content channels and See-What-I-See, as well as a unique split screen user experience (UX) for media sharing and easy content drag & drop.
The system can ‘fall back’ to SMS and MMS - when a contact isn’t on the same system, for instance, or when a broadband connection goes down.
As a white-label solution, Fuze is available for both iOS and Android, and can be customised and branded by operators and enterprises.
“In the old days whatever the question was the answer was RCS (rich communication services),” says Adolpho. “ With our new approach we still support RCS but we have a full framework for doing other advanced stuff.”