Discussions on convergence over the last number of years have primarily advocated a world where all services – mobile, fixed, broadband, TV – should be offered by a single operator. As a result single or dual service telco offerings were almost dismissed in the belief that people would only subscribe to an operator who could deliver an all-inclusive bundle of services.
In reality, the opposite has been borne out to be true. Users continue to use multiple service providers for their communication services. Broadband, TV, fixed and mobile services are typically sourced from two or more operators (i.e. a cable operator for TV and broadband and a MNO/MVNO for mobile services).
Now, with the explosion of social networking, the boundaries for service delivery are even more blurred. This is challenging for the traditional operator model as their subscribers can freely communicate using services from global online communities such as Facebook or Google. These social networks/communities have evolved from offering a simple Instant Messaging (IM) service to the point where they offer full voice and video calling capabilities from PCs and/or mobile phones.
While it can be argued that the one-size-fits-all operator has not been embraced by the subscriber, the appetite for converged services still remains. The question of “who’s customer are you anyway” is either a problem or an opportunity depending on how it is viewed and embraced.
One of the myths that hampers innovation among operators is the belief that convergence must be delivered by the network. The fact that real convergence happens on the device sitting in users’ hands (i.e. the mobile phone) has been overlooked and underestimated.
Users view of Converged Services
While cellular clearly remains a cornerstone of the communications industry, the proliferation of new Internet-based services means that (very) fast access to the Internet is an absolute requirement. The growth of video on demand and online video services, including YouTube, reinforces the Internet as the primary entertainment medium.
As the diagram illustrates, accessing a multitude of similar services across different platforms is the key requirement in a continually evolving communications ecosystem:
In today’s fast moving world, getting access to all of these services is all about mobility. Being able to make calls, send messages, receive video streams, read email, access Facebook, check LinkedIn and look at today’s tweets using a mobile device is an absolute requirement.
Having access to these personal services from a multitude of devices such as PC/laptops, tablets and phones is not the only requirement; being able to use different networks to access them cost-effectively is also essential.
Not that long ago, the options for accessing communications was limited to either fixed (fast) or mobile (slow) connections. Now the user has the choice of fixed, cable, point-to-point, cellular, mesh and other network bearers at home, at work and in public places.
All operators want to be the user’s primary and preferred communications provider. Previously, it was safe to assume that the cellular operator was the only one who could fill that role. Now, however, it is the operator that puts the subscriber at the centre of their picture that will stand out, providing optimised access both to its own services and to services offered by other providers and communities. Cicero Networks faciliates this subscriber-centric model with its mobile VoIP and converged client solutions. Learn more at www.ciceronetworks.com