Less is Better than None: How WebRTC Helps Carriers

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

Less is Better than None: How WebRTC Helps Carriers


Almost everyone knows that telcos’ mobile voice and messaging revenue is declining. With 3G offering a mobile on-ramp to the Internet, OTT services have been proliferating on the data channel and carving out revenue in this area. Ever since that trend started, carriers have been trying to protect their revenue and avoid becoming just a mobile bit pipe to the Internet.

The quest for additional value-added services – services carriers can offer that OTT players can’t – continues. Carriers are doing whatever they can to mitigate the decline of this revenue, with many deciding some decline is inevitable and trying simply to slow it. I call this the less-is-better-than-none strategy. Having some revenue from value-added services is better than having none.

I recently wrote about the fourth wave of value-added services, in which carriers are starting to monetize on top of their networks themselves because those networks offer ubiquitous connectivity from which carriers can roll out services such as the digital home or the connected car. Carriers are starting to offer enterprise services, as well. They’ve always done so, but now they can offer cloud services themselves, and may already have pipes coming into the enterprise. This makes a lot of sense, and enterprises are happy because they get all of their services from a single place. (Can you imagine your IT director shopping at an “app store” for your enterprise services?)

WebRTC is another disruption carriers can use to their advantage. Given browsers are shipped with smartphones, having a built-in OTT engine on your phone gives carriers an advantage when it comes to offering other services. They can fight directly against some OTT apps because they would have some basic ones themselves. With voice and video services built into WebRTC, talking and messaging services could be implemented easily. Then, carriers could upsell other value-added services like conference calls or off-net calls run by their companies, not the OTT service.

The future may not be like the old days for carriers, but less is certainly better than none.

How do you think carriers will stay relevant? Let us know on Twitter at @Dialogic.

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