Real Time Communications Featured Article

Network Operator Apps in the Spotlight at MWC

February 19, 2015

Network operators are facing a rapidly proliferating competitive field, populated by pure-play managed service providers, over-the-top (OTT) offerings and nimble, IP-based resellers looking to take market share based on flexibility and service agility. Increasingly, operators are questing to add value to their traditional voice, text and data services in order to compete and differentiate, paving the way for a next-gen approach to services that are consumer- and business-friendly and, crucially, revenue-generating.

The global cloud market—including private, public and hybrid cloud—is estimated to be $118 billion this year and grow to $200 billion by 2018, according to analyst firm IDC. Network operators have a significant opportunity to benefit from the growth of cloud services—both as providers and adopters of the technology—because it enables delivery of innovative communications services, significantly reduces costs, and improves flexibility and user experiences.

Not surprisingly, the idea of integrating next-gen applications into traditional network services has been around since the mid-2000s, in the form of so-called Web 2.0 mash-ups. Tier 1 incumbents like BT even launched or bought whole divisions devoted to the idea. But implementing the vision in a way that doesn’t require a massive network transformation or a complex, expensive policy implementation has been an elusive beast indeed.

That’s starting to change, with a few platforms that are custom-built to ease the path for network operators. And at Mobile World Congress, the arena is sure to be a hot topic.

Movius Interactive has for instance launched the Communications Applications Framework Engine (CAFE), its carrier-grade applications platform that comes pre-loaded with revenue-generating personal communications applications. The idea is to enable traditional network operators to deploy OTT-like communications services by making use of rich APIs and easy integration to billing and provisioning interfaces.

So far, the platform has exceeded 13 million operator end users, and the company expects at least 25 million subscribers on the platform by year-end. Movius is planning to continue the platform's rollout at the upcoming Mobile World Congress.

"CAFÉ is an advanced, multi-modal communications platform that enables unique services such as multiple mobile identities and split billing for BYOD, enterprise mobility, secure messaging, OTT communications apps, VoData call handoff and enterprise voicemail," said Dominic Gomez, CEO at Movius. "Whether deployed on-premise or as part of an NFV solution, Movius CAFÉ levels the playing field and allows mobile operators to offer services using the same business models offered by OTT providers.”

One key pre-packaged application on CAFÉ is myIdentities, a solution that can provide multiple phone lines on same device (SIM independent) and split billing for voice and data between the personal and enterprise accounts on both Android and iOS devices.

"The complexities of BYOD require a truly specialized portfolio of solutions in order to deliver completely differentiated products for managing personal and enterprise usage on mobile devices for voice, messaging and data," said Iván de Dios, global head of Enterprise Managed Mobility at the company. "This capability is what operators have been looking for, the breakthrough that will allow them to address a highly receptive business market with a fully comprehensive and easily adoptable BYOD solution across an unmatched range of devices."

Meanwhile, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) specialist Apcera is partnering with Tropo to match operators with app developers via the Continuum policy-driven PaaS. The two said that the solution will be deployed by a Tier 1 carrier this year.

Tropo’s platform allows operators to use its APIs to add developer offerings into their existing voice, video and messaging services, to better compete with OTT. Meanwhile, Continuum delivers baked-in compliance and offers reserved capacity and more fine-grained control over resources, including network and service access. More importantly, for operators that are concerned about exposing their services to the Internet, Continuum’s strong focus on policy enables the use of business rules to regulate access into and out of the platform, rather than involving core network or security teams.

“Tropo shares our vision for delivering the platform and solutions telcos require to develop new offerings to differentiate themselves in a competitive market,” said Derek Collison, founder and CEO of Apcera. “We look forward to working with Tropo to showcase the ease with which new, high-performance communications apps can be quickly developed and securely deployed with our respective offerings.”

Tropo will also be making news at MWC, focusing on leveraging cloud connectivity and the Apcera platform further to give operators a path to additional revenue generation.

Meanwhile, Nokia Networks and HP announced last fall that they are collaborating on a joint telco cloud solution that will provide virtualized network function management to support services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE).

“Services are fundamental to enable the transformation that the cloud promises to operators for telco and IT applications,” said Igor Leprince, executive vice president Global Services, Nokia Networks.

Saar Gillai, senior vice president and COO of the HP Cloud and general manager, NFV, HP, added, “Together, Nokia Networks and HP plan to deliver a pre-integrated solution leveraging our cloud platform and their VNFs to provide customers with a simplified and faster means to deploy NFV services.”

Embracing cloud applications to be delivered as integrated apps with network services offers a way to gain flexibility, scalability and operational efficiency—and news from MWC will indicate how close they will get to that goal in 2015.

"Enabling service agility is a key goal as operators converge their IT and telco service infrastructure and transition to integrated open-source platforms to support new…virtualized services,” said Nav Chander, research manager for Telecom Services and Networks at IDC. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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