Competing with OTT players
When smartphones first arrived on the scene, consumers had the luxury of unlimited data plans. While this encouraged uptake, it also meant the growth of third party players entering the market in over-the-top (OTT) services. "Personal communications are evolving really rapidly" says Alex Sinclair, CTO, GSMA. "Consumers have a lot more choice these days and it’s very important that operator offerings evolve too, so that they can remain relevant to their customers."
With many users bypassing traditional services for OTT services that can be used for free on data plans, Vodafone has been focusing its business strategy on capturing revenue from data services. In line with this, the operator has become part of an important initiative to launch rich communication services that go beyond what users have come to expect. The unique project involves working with other operators to create a community that includes all users.
Rogelio Martinez, Innovation Director, Vodafone, Spain describes the project: "It incorporates operators around the world, working together to deliver a first-class rich communications experience which is interoperable. Interoperability is key because it allows us to provide a true universal service, across terminals, networks and operators. By being the first to launch, Vodafone shows that we continue to be delivering on innovation."
Simple and easy
The umbrella name for the brand is joyn and the world’s first joyn network has now been launched in Spain. It offers users a combination of IM chat, video and file sharing services that are native on new smartphones or available as a downloadable client for those already in the market. Simple and easy, joyn provides a universal platform with superior usability compared to traditional services, and better quality than OTT offerings.
Vodafone Spain worked with Ericsson to develop the innovative Rich Communication Suite evolved (RCSe) platform that joyn is based on. Ericsson supplied hardware, software and services, including Ericsson’s Messaging in One product which was adapted to meet the GSMA specification and then implemented as the joyn platform.
Ericsson has been working to standardize an RCSe solution for many years using its knowledge of operators’ networks and what products will work with the nodes currently installed. Vodafone recognized that Ericsson is the market leader in IMS-based messaging solutions and how the organization has been driving standardization of the RCSe platform. As part of the collaboration Vodafone was able to deploy a trial system, and together the two organizations have developed a platform that meets the criteria set by standardization bodies.
Rogelio Martinez, Innovation Director, Vodafone, Spain talks about the benefits of the collaboration: "We worked together with Ericsson, trialing the technology which shaped our understanding and allowed us to propose a new approach. I think that the fact that we were able to build this messaging platform that implements the new RCSe specification in such a record time frame is a superb example of agile development."
Vodafone worked closely with Ericsson to implement subscriber feedback and evolve the service so that new functionality can be added quickly and easily. "Our speed of execution has been really accelerated by Ericsson," says Philip Carter, Head of Smart Communication Technologies, Vodafone Group Technology. "We started with a collaborative relationship; we threw the commercials aside and focused on the customer. For us it’s important to deliver value and quality to our customers and RCSe is essential to that."
For Vodafone, the ability to provide feature-rich services will bring users back to the network and in time will enable new revenue-generating services. Since the launch of the consumer brand joyn interest from operators around the globe is growing exponentially, including New Zealand, India, China, the US, Canada, Turkey and Korea.