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Will Closed Telecoms environments survive the growth of application led communications? November 27, 2015

Posted by Dominic Black in Uncategorized.
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Cavell attended the TADSummit in Lisbon this week which is one of the largest events in Europe for Telecoms Application Developers to come together and show off their new products, applications and integrations.

A large number of exhibitors and speakers were showing the next generation of applications for IOT devices and how they would be enabled in the future. The rise of M2M (Machine-to-Machine) and P2M (Person-to-Machine) communication is having a huge effect on how networks and communications is evolving and there is a lot of innovation in this space to make sure that platforms are open and have a flexible API layer to allow for applications to integrate to allow for M2M communication.

Many attendees at the summit were dismissive of the future of Voice services, especially in their current form as they are delivered from closed platforms. As Adam Kalsey from Tropo (Tropo is an application layer allowing developers to develop and integrate into Cisco services such as Jabber) made the point that the phone call hasn’t changed in 120 years since the first phone calls. Although this could be disputed with the rise in video calling, especially on the consumer side from services such as Skype, Fuze, Fring etc., in general he makes a valid point.

In the old days you would go to a traditional Telco provider for all you business communciation needs, as they would offer a full set of voice, messaging and sometimes email services. Now with the rise of focussed communcation application providers such as Whatsapp for messaging, Slack for collaboration and other application providers delivering a single service, Telco’s are no longer providing all a customer’s communications solutions.

The rise of communication providers who are not traditional Telcos and are running their services via applications has seen huge growth particularly in messaging. WhatsApp and other messaging services are used by a large portion of the population but are not typically integrated into Service Providers platforms. Many providers, if creating their own IM service cannot federate with other IM services delivered by other providers. This means that users looking to communicate outside their company cannot usually use messaging services and have to resort to traditional voice communications, or use a different service. IT and communications development is being driven more and more by consumers, not by Telco’s or by the decision makers in companies.

Service Providers need to make sure that they can give the tools to customers to communicate how they want, which may involve opening their platform and building API’s to integrate 3rd party applications into their service. Telco’s will be unable to deliver all forms of communication services to their users and need to understand what they are best at and focus on those services.

Contextual Communications was discussed at length at TADSummit as developers see applications being able to enable users to access and view all relevant information when interacting with another user. This form of communication will only be possible if platform allow themselves to interact with one another and not operate as separate islands of communications where voice traffic is the only way to bridge communications.

One example of this was Fone.do, an American and Israeli communications firm who have built a VoIP service built on a WebRTC platform. They are able to deliver a suite of Hosted VoIP features through a browser or smartphone application and then use their sister company to deliver breakout to the PSTN. They have enabled integrations with applications such as Linkedin and Google apps to bring up information on the person you are calling, for example if you were calling a customer based in Manchester, your desktop may show local news from the city as well as any contact information and data from your apps that you have integrated like Linkedin profile.

Application led communications will open up the traditional closed telecoms environments, enabling more way to communicate and more contextual conversations, over whatever device and service the user wants to use. Service Providers need to be aware of the potential threat from application developers as many have not come from a traditional telecoms background and are not bogged down by the same issues that established providers have, and can be quick to adapt their business models and force change. This is a space Cavell will be looking at with more interest in the next few years to see how applications start to influence service provider’s strategies.