SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Michael Finneran | February 05, 2013 |

 
   

RCS: Mobile UC From the Carriers

RCS: Mobile UC From the Carriers My bet is that RCS will yield a next-generation "consumer UC" offering that enterprise users may find "good enough."

My bet is that RCS will yield a next-generation "consumer UC" offering that enterprise users may find "good enough."

I've always been fascinated by the similarities between UC and what we are seeing in the consumer space, particularly around smartphones. While they don't use the term "UC", consumer services like Skype, Facebook, Foursquare, and Google+ are offering many of the same capabilities we have in UC. Users can get presence, location information, one click access to voice, video, chat and email--launched directly from a social networking app or from the native capabilities in the phone. Facebook has made the biggest splash in that recently with the introduction of voice messaging, and the company is now testing a VoIP service in the US and Canada.

Facing a decline in SMS revenues (the most overpriced communications service since the telegram), the mobile industry is now looking to offer a new set of services based on a project called Rich Communications Services (RCS); the consumer facing brand name for RCS is joyn. RCS is a joint development of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the organization that develops standards for the cellular industry, and the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).

Up until now, most of the RCS activity has been centered in Europe, but MetroPCS has announced plans to roll out joyn on its network in the US this summer, using Android devices and an application that can be downloaded from Google's Play storefront.

RCS will allow for UC-like mobile communications services that function across operator networks. Among the capabilities described for joyn are:

* Enhanced Phonebook: A directory that can provide contacts' presence status as well as integrated location information.
* Enhanced Messaging: New messaging options including video chat, messaging history, and file sharing
* Enriched Call: To provide multimedia content sharing during a voice call.

In its joyn offering, MetroPCS plans to provide:

* Presence
* Threaded text conversations
* Share content from the address book with one click
* The ability to share video, images and files while on a call
* Voice and video calls over Wi-Fi networks

A lot of these services aren't "new" per se, but the way they are provided will be. For example, presence is available in Skype, but you have to open the Skype app to see it. As we noted above, Facebook is enhancing its chat options, but you have to open the Facebook app. Similarly, we have enhanced messaging in iMessenger and BlackBerry Messenger, but those communities are closed and you can only get access to the full range of capabilities with your contacts who own the same hardware as you.

The key with RCS is to bring those capabilities into the mobile network and to fully integrate them with the phone's native interface, regardless of whose phone or whose network it's on. Even more than the need to replace SMS revenues that are dipping due to IP-based texting capabilities like iMessenger and BlackBerry Messenger (or Facebook, Skype, Google Chat, etc.), what is driving the operators to offer these enhanced services is the fear of becoming a "dumb pipe" for someone else's really great over-the-top (OTT) service. As LTE is turning the mobile networks into high-capacity wireless IP networks, the "dumb pipe" threat is one they recognize clearly.

From a UC standpoint, the most exciting part of RCS is that it could allow the mobile operators to break into enterprise telephony. With the growing population of mobile workers and the increasing use of smartphones, many users are asking, "What do I need a PBX for?" Clearly there will still be a need for traditional enterprise telephony for desk-bound workers and for specialized applications like contact centers, but what about everyone else? It's getting harder and harder to justify the cost of hardware, licenses, cabling, and maintenance to put a phone on a desk that no one is sitting at.

We have been talking about the idea of "wireless Centrex" for decades, but adding the range of features required for enterprise telephony to a mobile switching center would be no small undertaking. RCS can provide the tools to deliver a very rich and fully integrated mobile UC/PBX offering, but the mobile operators (and their key suppliers) would have to get behind it.

While I'd love to see a real integrated UC-type offering from the mobile operators, I think the operators' tunnel focus on the consumer market will mean that a real "Enterprise" offering never gets out of the starting gate. However, my bet is that RCS will yield a next generation "consumer UC" offering, and that, even without a full-blown "enterprise" feature set, this consumer offering might still deliver enough functionality that we could see business users adopt it as well.

Follow Michael Finneran on Twitter and Google+!
@dBrnWireless
Michael Finneran on Google+





COMMENTS



May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.