Interactive calling: A new experience for 5G smartphones
When was the last time you spent a long time on a call with a customer support center, trying to understand how to assemble a product you’d just bought? What if, instead, you could easily interact with the service center via shared content during the call on your new 5G smartphone? Explore how the Ericsson innovation concept “interactive calling” could help solve this kind of problem in the future, and how service providers could increase revenue with this 5G voice service.
5G smartphones won’t just be about faster surfing, but there could be other new 5G services introduced. We have invented a solution that builds on the 5G voice service and could include a new service we’ve named “interactive calling”. Find out how this could help everyone to easily interact with each other during a 5G phone call in the future, and how service providers could increase revenue.
In a blog post from earlier this year, “Evolve VoLTE to enable real-time interaction over 5G with IMS data channel”, I wrote about our interactive calling innovation concept from another angle; how this could benefit businesses, enterprises and society in general. We demonstrated an example from the health care sector, by showing how you could run a medical examination in real-time with HD voice, video calling and haptic feedback between a hospital and an ambulance.
This interactive calling technology concept (this is built on IMS, i.e., the IP Multimedia Subsystem solution) could be used for numerous types of services and applications over 5G networks. Now, I thought we could share how consumers and businesses could also benefit from this technology concept during a regular phone call on a 5G smartphone.
Today, the dialing screen on a regular smartphone is mainly used to dial the phone number you want to reach, with the possibility to punch in some numbers, stars and hash signs to select a particular service at a business service center. This doesn’t really take advantage of most large, high-resolution screens where more valuable content could be displayed during a call.
What if you could easily interact with a person during a voice call by sharing different kinds of content in real-time via your regular dialing screen on your 5G smartphone? The user value here lies in the combination of the HD voice call and synchronized content you share on your dialing screen, so it feels like you’re talking and interacting with content with the other person in real-time.
The following two examples show how this concept could improve user experience:
Faster problem solving when calling a customer or government support center
Why not cut the wasted time and hassle of calling to a customer support center or the tax authority? Once the number is dialed, the interactive calling concept could be used as soon as you reach the queue. You could immediately select which department you wanted to reach and insert your customer support number/social security number. When the support agent picks up the call, you could share a photo, drawing or a live video feed, showing the piece of furniture or technical equipment you needed help with, and you could both draw on top of those pictures in real-time to discuss how to solve the problem.
The company could also reach customers with valuable company information and advertisements while customers are in the waiting lobby, instead of just playing low-quality music or trying to direct listeners to long-winded web-page addresses.
Sharing the fun is more fun – entertainment with friends and family
Why not have more fun by interacting and looking at the same content in real-time when talking to your friends or family members? You could play a game or watch a video together. In that case, you’d be able to watch the same video stream while discussing the game or video over the phone call.
Alternatively, you could discuss and share a piece of music within the voice call with friends while discussing which songs to select for a friend’s birthday party. (And by the way, with 5G voice, there will be a new voice codec called EVS (Evolved Voice System, or “HD voice+”), which significantly improves the music quality within calls.).
Who could make money on interactive calling?
Could service providers deploying 5G voice-enabled networks make money on interactive calling?
For business, enterprise and government services, it’s clear this concept has a high monetary value, which service providers could monetize. But to monetize consumer-to-consumer services is always more challenging. Consumers often expect certain services to be free of charge, or at least they perceive that it won’t cost extra. Today, most service providers sell regular smartphone bundles with mobile broadband data + unlimited voice + SMS/MMS. If introducing interactive calling as part of the 5G voice service – focusing on consumer-to-consumer voice calls – service providers could try to charge it with a couple of extra dollars per month, as part of premium 5G bundles. But if that isn’t successful, consider including it at no extra cost in the bundle.
It’s crucial to focus on the main value, which lies in consumer-to-business or business-to-consumer/business voice calls. Here, the service provider could charge for adding the interactive calling service to businesses, enterprises, government services (to name a few) based on the value it can provide these companies. For example, charge a consumer goods company every time the interactive calling is used during the voice call between the consumer and the business. So, X number of calls, times Y dollars per interactive calling fee, could add up to substantial additional service provider revenue.
Think about how much time could be saved by businesses, enterprises, governments and other organizations by speeding up, simplifying and reducing the number of customer support center calls. Issues would be solved much quicker for the benefit of everyone involved, and this of course has a high business value.
Why is 5G needed for interactive calling?
So why is 5G needed for this? Is 4G, or even 3G, not sufficient for this kind of service? Well, yes, in theory it is, depending on the use case, of course. However, if low latency is required to provide a good user experience, 5G is a must. Not all use cases require extremely low latency, but some require high 5G data throughput. In essence, it depends on the use case, but to always be able to deliver a great user experience, 5G is the best technology available today.
We have invented the interactive calling concept to be an evolutionary step of voice calling in 5G. It’s designed to be built on the latest future-proof 5G technology, and to be as flexible as possible to cater for all the kinds of use cases we expect to develop, as well as those that are still unheard of. What additional real-time, interactive use cases and services would you find beneficial while making a phone call?
Want to know more?
Do you want to know more about how interactive calling could be used on a 5G smartphone? Check out this document with some more inspirational examples of how this could look like on a 5G smartphone’s dialing screen in the future.Download examples
In our next blog post on this topic, we’ll share more about the technology behind this innovation concept (IMS data channel), 3GPP standardization and how you could support in making this concept become a commercial 5G voice service in the future. It will require developments in 5G networks, as well as support in 5G voice-capable chipsets and devices. The next step is a broader business development phase to start designing various use cases and services for different companies’ and end-users’requirements.
You can already now read more about the IMS data channel concept and some examples and demonstration videos for business and society services here: 5G voice and interactive calling.