A dominant theme at Genband’s recent Perspectives16 conference in Orlando, Florida, was responding to the OTT threat in the communications space. The keynote – which focused on how telcos and other service providers must respond to this growing threat – was on point, if a bit too late because many large operators have already found ways to either combat or work with OTT players across the world. However, Genband remains focused on helping the smaller players in the industry because they can learn from the experiences of larger players such as Deutsche Telecom, Verizon, and Vodafone.
The Fring Alliance enables telcos to work like OTT players
To combat the OTT threat, Genband has laid out two key propositions to help service providers and telcos. The first comprises a variety of APIs and tools that can be easily plugged in to an existing service and added to a particular communication channel, allowing telcos to integrate another communication channel into their service (e.g. adding Skype voice to customer care). The second is the Fring Alliance, a group of telcos brought together by Genband to work on interoperable OTT-style IP services. Both are based on the Kandy platform, a variety of tools built on Genband technology.
The Kandy platform is at the heart of many of the services that Genband offers in the communications space. The platform can be customized according to service providers’ needs or offered in a bundle of APIs as a “Kandy Wrapper.” In Genband’s experience, most service providers opt for a specific set of APIs from Kandy, leading them to bundle the APIs as a convenient way to deploy and market the products to others.
As more consumers adopt OTT services, they will begin to demand the OTT experience from their business applications, customer care organizations, and telco consumer services. Therefore IP-based rich media services, such as VoIP calls and video conferencing, will become essential to the user. Service providers must keep up with the evolution of communication services either by investing in their own WebRTC- or RCS-based platforms or by using a third-party platform to quickly deploy and upgrade these services. Whether service providers invest in creating their own platform or use services offered by vendors such as Genband depends purely on internal factors (e.g. resources, long-term strategy, and customer base).
The Fring Alliance might sound similar to the GSMA’s RCS initiative, but it works off the Kandy WebRTC platform and is quicker to deploy. The alliance enables operators to offer their own branded IP communications services. At Perspectives16, Deutsche Telekom demonstrated its soon-to-be-launched immmr service and its interoperability with Airtel in India. Immmr seamlessly conducts video and chat services across networks and facilitates peer-to-peer payments. However, the success of immmr is based on its ability to be interoperable between a large number of operators globally. Details about the number of networks this service can work with are yet to be revealed.
The Fring Alliance is a step in the right direction, but it needs to move as swiftly as the OTT market in order to be competitive and cast a wider net in terms of operators. If immmr is successful in adding value for Deutsche Telekom users, we can expect similar services to ramp up to other operators worldwide.
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Neha Dharia, Senior Analyst, Consumer Services