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Decemmber 15th, 2012, Vol:1

Editor's Words

By Sridhar Pai, ceo, Tonse Telecom

Why RCS will make no more than a dent

In a battle that continues to swing in favour of OTT players, the mobile industry is putting up yet another bold front to retain its identity and not become a pipe dream. As GSMA launched its big attempt at Rich Communication Suite RCS – with its consumer facing brand JOYN, and announced its early backers with such powerful operators as Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Moviestar Spain and Vodafone in Europe and Spain, it brings memories of another attempt by the mobile association to step out and fight the giants with a twig.

While the OTT innovation engine furiously spits out game changing ideas from Skype, WhatsApp and a whole lot of others, that scales virally into millions of users overnight (for example, Skype breached 300mil minutes of video per day on its application sometime last year) and WhatsApp threatens to eat into global SMS traffic already), GSM Association believes in continuing to bring another tool to fight the battle, this time it is called RCS.

At the same time Google's Web RTC is already inspiring a powerful global developer community to create a rich real time communications via Java APIs and HTML 5. WebRTC is an open framework for the web that enables Real Time Communications in the browser. It includes the fundamental building blocks for high quality communications on the web such as network, audio and video components used in voice and video chat applications. These components, when implemented in a browser, can be accessed through a Javascript API, enabling developers to easily implement their own RTC web app. The Web RTC initiative is supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera.

This is not the first time that GSMA is attempting to take the bull by the horn – it did it with WAC (Wholesale Applications Community) which was launched with much fanfare – but quietly died as it got folded back –with little success. According to some estimates of industry experts, although WAC signups included about 27 mobile operators and more later on, it never really got operational on the ground. In the meantime, Android and Apple IOS applications had crossed billions of downloads.

This multi-tiered battle to make human communications richer and quality of experience better is a great objective that always will leave the consumer the winner. However my opinion is operator association is unlikely to make an impact. Why? Firstly – innovation is not about creating a cool application or a framework alone. Its distribution with no visible monetization, rapid proliferation by a variety of users in scale of millions, on myriad hardware platforms, and to continuously support the user community across geographies is something that operators have neither appetite nor the skills for. Operator branded AppStores are just another example of how operators are simply ill-equipped to fight the global OTT onslaught. Sometimes, it is more important to know which battles one should fight and which one should not– old jungle saying!

Sridhar Pai runs Tonse Telecom, a Bengaluru-based telecom research and consulting house that is a research partner to Light Reading India.

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About Tonse Telecom

Tonse Telecom is a research, consulting and advisory services organization focusing on the India telecom sector. Tonse Telecom enables telecom equipment vendors, ISVs, infrastructure developers and investors for success in the Indian telecom marketplace.

Tonse Telecom has onboard, a team of reputed senior industry executives and consultants who provide advisory services on specific projects. Tonse covers a broad spectrum of telecom technologies that include Wi-Fi /BWA / WiMAX, IMS, FMC and Triple Play, VoIP, Mobile VAS, End-device Applications and Mobile Content.

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