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P2P messaging

Since the advent of telecommunication, SMS messaging has played an important role in communication. The usage of SMS messaging service has evolved over a period of time. Starting from personal messaging (P2P), SMS messaging service is widely used by enterprises for marketing (A2P) due to high reachability and ROI when compared to other communication channels.

The telecommunication which is initially designed for voice communication is enhanced for providing internet services to the subscribers. The quest for providing higher internet speeds has revolutionized the way network nodes operate and communicate with each other. The network nodes are enhanced to provide better internet speeds with low latency which has led to the evolution of multiple generations of telecom network which are referred as 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G etc. Despite the advancements in the telecom network generations, SMS messaging still remained as the key way of communication when compared to voice calls and other communication channels like email, OTT, App notifications etc.

SMSC is the network node which handles SMS messages in telecom network. In 2G/3G network, SMSC is integrated with MSC and SGSN via SIGTRAN protocol for receiving and sending SMS messages. The SMS messages will be sent as part of signaling messages where the size of the packet is limited. Hence only fixed number of characters can be sent in the SMS messages. In case of a big message, the SMS message will be split into multi-part and sent in multiple signaling messages.

3GPP has introduced 4G/LTE network which is capable of providing 10x the speeds of 3G network for mobile devices. Due to the higher data bandwidth availability in 4G network, VoLTE (Voice over LTE) is introduced where voice data packets will also be transmitted via internet channel. SMSC in 4G/LTE network can integrate with VoLTE network via SIP protocol for receiving and sending SMS messages. Unlike 2G/3G network, there is no need to split the SMS message into multi-part as there is no limitation on the number of characters that can be sent in the SMS message.

Operators who are upgrading their network from 2G/3G to 4G/LTE will have two options for enhancing their messaging network. The first option is to deploy an IPSMGW and integrate with their existing 2G/3G compatible SMSC. IPSMGW will act like a translator between VoLTE network and 2G/3G compatible SMSC by converting SIP traffic to SIGTRAN and vice versa. The second option is to enhance their existing SMSC to integrate with VoLTE network directly and handle SMS messages via SIP protocol. Telecom operators generally prefers the second option to avoid additional IPSMGW node in the network which becomes an overhead in latency, network capacity upgrade, OAM and performing SMS filtering.

High internet speeds and growth in smartphone usage in 4G/LTE era has resulted in the evolution of a new messaging channel known as OTT (Over The Top) applications like Whatsapp, Viber, Hike etc. Since these OTT applications communicate over internet, subscribers have the option of enjoying additional services along with messaging like sending images, videos, voice calls, video calls etc. This has resulted in significant reduction in P2P traffic in SMSCs. Due the adoption of different OTT applications in different parts of the world, enterprises still consider SMS as the primary channel of communication with subscribers. The raise in the number of enterprises and applications has resulted in a spike in A2P traffic in SMSCs and A2P messaging has become a key monetization factor for the telecom operators.

In order to leverage the high bandwidth availability in VoLTE network and to compete with the OTT applications, 3GPP has introduced a new channel of messaging called as RCS (Rich Communication Service) which is intended to replace traditional SMS service. RCS platform provides rich features like messaging, image transfer, video transfer, voice call, video call, group chat etc. which are available in OTT applications. RCS transfers all the messages through VoLTE network unlike OTT applications which transfer the messages through internet channel. The traditional SMS messaging client that is present in the handset will be replaced with the RCS client and all the RCS features will be provided to the subscriber by default which might help the telecom operators to regain their share in P2P traffic from OTT applications. Enterprises can also push rich content to the subscribers through RCS channel which helps in better ROI when compared to traditional text based SMS. Fallback to traditional SMS and MMS helps the enterprises to reach subscribers even though they are not available in VoLTE network.

Even though RCS looks promising, operators are still in a dilemma, regarding its adoption, considering the challenges that should be mitigated for launching RCS services effectively. The race for the monopoly in RCS has lead the handset and its OS vendors to limit the default SMS messaging client to connect to their respective RCS Core systems. This restrains the telecom operators to collaborate with the handset and its OS vendors for providing RCS services to their subscribers. Without the default SMS messaging client support, operator has to request the subscribers to download a RCS client application from application store to avail the RCS services which makes the penetration rate questionable. In a long run, after mitigating the challenges, RCS has the capability to take over OTT applications and emerge as a primary channel of messaging.

March 25, 2020 0 comment
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Telecom Operators worldwide are facing increasing heat due to gradual erosion in their core infrastructure revenues. P2P Messaging is going down affected by OTT traffic. Net Neutrality concerns are affecting service differentiation and segmented monetization. As the world moves towards all IP for every mobile service, Operators need to quickly turn around a corner and find newer ways to monetize their data infrastructure and be ahead of the game Operators form the backbone of the mobile economy and have the highest contribution to the mobile ecosystem. The Mobile ecosystem revenue is forecasted to grow to nearly $3 Trillion by 2020, as per GSMA.

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At the same time, the share of the operators in the pie is reducing. Think about this – Telecom Operators have invested zillions of dollars in setting up the infrastructure that is enabling us to communicate the way we want today, anytime, anywhere. The digital transformation of the industry has caught out the operators, and they are finding it increasing difficult to sustain their revenues and grow. Voice revenues are on the decline, P2P messaging traffic decline is faster, owing to the proliferation of OTT services. Traditional core-infrastructure services cannot sustain them for long. Everything is going to IP, everything is data. The big question in front of operators today is how to effectively monetize data traffic.

 image005 Gartner predicts that by 2018, worldwide mobile data traffic will increase 3x from its current levels

However the operator data revenues are not increasing by a similar proportion. Ability to monetize that insatiable appetite for more data holds the key to their long term success

Mobile Data Revenue eco-system

Broadly, the mobile eco-system is enabled by three main drivers – Consumers, Advertisers and Enterprises

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  • Consumers / Subscribers

Depending on the general consumer consumption pattern, the global consumer / subscriber market for data can be broadly classified into Pioneers, Mature and Followers segments.

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Operators need to evolve differentiated strategies to individually address these segments. These could range from offering higher data volume limits in data-hungry markets, competitive pricing, pay-per-use models for driving data usage, to even data VAS like data sharing options for friends / families for common apps.

  • Content Suppliers / Advertisers

Advertisers provide the means for businesses to reach their customers. Their main value comes from being able to offer a higher conversion rate through better targeting.

The captive customer base of subscribers is a huge asset that operators have to make use of. Usage patterns, location information, demographics, interests and what not; all are key data that the services out there are dying to get hold of for driving custom intelligence and targeted sales.

The $500Bn Content / Advertising market is desperate to get these insights that will help them generate higher conversion rates, with more contextual and targeted advertising. Operators are also in the best position to keep the data anonymous given their long-term experience in dealing with user privacy concerns.

  • Enterprise / Sponsored Data

Enterprises are the businesses that want to get connected with their customers anytime anywhere. They are looking for newer channels for engagement for retaining customers, promoting new services and improving service quality.

The big opportunity that is today untapped to a fairly large extent is Data Sponsorship. It has been making the rounds for a while now, but net neutrality debates have curtailed its success. A top Tier 1 operator in North America introduced a service named Sponsored Data in 2014, where customers can browse, stream and enjoy content from data sponsors without impacting their monthly data plan allowance. Some limited use-cases are possible with zero-rating, but still there is the search for those killer use-cases, that can help realize the true potential of this business.

This requires a paradigm shift in how operators are thinking about data. There is need for operators to start to treat data as something that could be used for trade. Enable enterprises to use data as a means to incentivize, reward and promote services towards subscribers. Enterprises are looking at ways that go beyond just offering discounts or distributing gift coupons. What if operators created the environment for enterprises to use data flexibly as part of their marketing campaigns and customer retention schemes? What if an enterprise could deploy data-led loyalty programs? What if they could manage real-time campaigns that use a mix of customer / network intelligence that the operator brings in, and incentives based on data packs? The growing use of smartphones and launch of an ocean of apps and services for the consumers has put a premium on the data pipe of operators. Operators should look to take advantage of this by making it convenient for businesses to connect with their customers using data as an engagement channel.

Data monetization is critical for the long-term success of operators in this age of digital transformation. It is quite probable,in the very near future that data might just become a newform of currency, with a healthy contribution to the mobile economy.

February 10, 2016 0 comment
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