Real Time Communications Featured Article

The RTC World is Federating Crazy

March 02, 2015

Seamless communication between IP messaging services is getting a whole lot easier. GENBAND and Jibe Mobile both made interconnection announcements to beat the tidal wave of news out of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain starting  today.   Federation is being touted as the new best way to beat larger over-the-top (OTT) services, so there's likely more news to come in the days and months ahead.




GENBAND blogged about its neutral exchange for multimedia messaging on February 26.  The fring Alliance brings together service providers that either already have deployed or are in the process of rolling out GENBAND's OTT offerings.  

David Walsh, President and Chief Executive Officer of GENBAND, said several larger fring customers came to the company with the idea to create a federation linking together all fring users.   GENBAND agreed to facilitate and created a centralized -- perhaps "universal" is a better description -- fring directory enabling any fring user on any participating service provider to communicate with any other fring user(s), regardless of service provider or region.

A user opts-in to fring, allowing the client to perform self-discovery on his contact list to figure out who else is a fring user.  If the person isn't on fring, they can be invited in to download the client.

The official in-service launch of the fring Alliance is set for June 2015. Charter members will "own" the Alliance, with expenses limited to operating expenses -- no infrastructure/capital expenditures required.  There are currently over 50 million independently registered fring users.

GENBAND believes a "ready now" fring Alliance will prove attractive to service providers because it can be available as a carrier offering faster than the standardized-but-overhead-laden Rich Communications Services (RCS) client coming with LTE, providing a quick alternative to current social media and third-party OTT offerings.

However, RCS isn't standing still.  Jibe Mobile is promoting how RCS users can already exchange IP-based multimedia messaging, including video calling, group messaging, and photo/video sharing.   Participating services at the Mobile World Congress "Global interoperability" RCS demo include Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Sprint and Vodafone, with handset manufacturers such as Sony Mobile showing how they are making SMS/IP communications as a native messaging experience on the latest devices. 

Jibe doesn't have a total number of users it hubs, but GSMA says RCS has been launched with 32 countries to date and a total of 87 operators committed to launch by the end of 2015. For example, Deutsch Telekom plans to expand its deployments of joyn RCS services from two markets to regions throughout Europe this year, interconnecting its subsidiaries thought Jibe as well as enabling interconnection to other service providers.

Both fring and RCS are aimed at the larger third-party OTT market, including Skype, WhatApp, and practically everyone else who compares themselves to being "Skype, but better."  OTT services have been a long-standing thorn in the side of service providers, disconnecting customers from a service provider's brand and putting them front and center with a third party, not to mention depressing the use of traditional (and once lucrative) SMS text messaging and per-minute voice services.

It is difficult to say how successful GENBAND and RCS will be against the vast sea of established and embedded third-party OTT services.   Certainly other telecom-based parties, such as Metaswitch, have touted service-provider OTT solutions as a counter to third-party offerings, but nobody has yet registered a big win moment against the Skype-and-everyone-else OTT world.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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