It Takes a Village to Deliver Rich Communications

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It Takes a Village to Deliver Rich Communications

By Erin Harrison

As service providers (SPs) shift to all IP-networks, users expect features to become standardized.  This gives SPs an opportunity to provide their customers a new conversation experience.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent Enriching Communications article, “RCS Success Requires Community-based Ecosystem,” highlighted how the market for Rich Communications Services (RCS) has changed based on two developments that have converged — accelerating deployment of wired and wireless end-to-end IP networks and the rapid rollout and adoption of rich communications applications and services.

The article says this convergence creates the ideal environment for the deployment of RCS-based services that offer subscribers a new conversation experience.

As noted, the first trend is the fact that service providers are rapidly moving to all-IP networks, especially with the heated race around the world in the mobility space to deploy 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) and IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem)-based IP communications. In fact, a major benefit of the growing international footprint of 4G LTE is as a designed and preferred fixed wireless and mobile infrastructure for advanced RCS services such as unified messaging, video sharing and enriched voice, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

The other developing trend is that rich communications types of services are already appearing from application and content providers (ACPs) such as Google, Facebook and Skype. “Features are becoming standard, such as presence and video calling, as well as instant messaging (IM) and voice over IP (VoIP) to others on the same ACP network,” the article said.

For service providers to get started on this mission of delivering RCS, 4G LTE is necessary but not sufficient. They do need to have an IMS architecture to deliver innovative services with the proper quality of service (QoS) that ensure a quality user experience. That said, in order for rich communications to fully see their potential, global interoperability will need to occur. However, as the article states, that won’t happen until at least some service providers in some areas of the world start launching these services.

To help facilitate the market, given that interoperability will be a key determinant for success, Alcatel-Lucent recommends that service providers embrace a community-based model that will leverage IMS as their communications core.

“As a group, service providers must evolve their infrastructure to an open model where select network capabilities are available and easily accessible by application developers through secure web services application programming interfaces (APIs),” according to the article.  It further states that service providers in essence are creating a virtuous circle of success.  By enabling, and acting as the foundation of robust and open ecosystems, more developers will be attracted to work with the SPs. This will in turn drive more innovation that leverages the expanded reach of 4G LTE and IMS-based networks.  

The industry is still early in the learning curve of ecosystem development for rich communications services.  One thing is clear, service providers will need to focus not only on the technical aspects of RCS, but also on building and fostering communities around the capabilities that RCS provides.  Indeed, whether it is called a community or an ecosystem, reality is if easy-to-use, reliable, secure and high-performance rich communications services are to proliferate, it is going to take a lot of different interests with a variety of skills to maximize the possibilities.

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