There have been more than a few large themes in telecom over the past 10 years. Some have come and gone with little impact on the way we communicate. Others have changed the communications landscape.
Today I wanted to pick on two of the themes that I think are really driving the evolution of communications: Messaging and Mobility.
Electronic messaging started with passing text between two users logged into the same server on separate terminals, and went 'social' the ability to post what you had for dinner last night on someone's wall. Mobility is about communicating when and where we want to. We have also come a long way from Advanced Mobile Phone Systems (AMPS) and brick phones (everyone knows I'm a fan) to mobile 4G, unlicensed spectrum, and smartphones.
Mobility and Messaging have always seemed to go hand in hand. Short Messaging Service (SMS) was a huge feature for early mobility services. Compressing cogent thought into 160 characters is sometimes more convenient than making a call, but of course 160 characters is rooted in the size of a SS7 message, minus space for header. Perhaps the scarcity today is not the bandwidth, but our time and attention. Is the time used to read 160 characters of a twitter update worthwhile? I can't answer that, but it likely depends upon the author?
A service that 'gets' both Messaging and Mobility is Google Voice. By acquiring and growing the GrandCentral service they've nailed both. Google has harnessed the power of "free" (as in ad-supported, not as in beer) to grow GrandCentral into a service that users can access from all (well many) of their devices anywhere they are, with a number of communications methods. Google Voice numbers, and now Sprint numbers, are a user’s single number for both voice and messaging (SMS). Google's focus on messaging is strong. Voice numbers are SMS enabled and the voicemail service they provide performs reasonable text to speech (sometimes with very humorous mistakes). Users can access Google Voice from their Google Talk (IM) service or Gmail email service. Users’ calls and SMS are blasted out to capable devices, and users can answer and reply to callers or texters using those devices with the right client.
For Wireline, Mobile, and VoIP Operators and Services, Google Voice represents a disenfranchising of their services from their network connectivity. Google Voice sits on top of your service. Google services your customers. You provide connectivity (sometimes). Google will evolve to provide more interesting services, while the carriers will still provide the connectivity. Google remains in the forefront (their telephone number, their services, their identity) while the carrier slips into the background (their bill, their minute, message, and data caps). Some carriers are embracing this. It is possible to conclude that with their recent service announcement, Sprint has abdicated the role of service provider and has taken a connectivity role - yes, I'm saying dumb pipe nicely. Google is the new service provide for spring users choosing to switch on Google Voice service. To give Sprint some credit, users who are really interesting in Google voice could port their numbers over. Other providers can take a different course. CounterPath wants to help.
CounterPath recently announced a Network Convergence Gateway (NCG) for Wireline Operators . This is the same software that powers the company’s NCG for Mobile Operators, but tuned to allow wireline operators the ability to add messaging and mobility to their existing and new service offerings. The platform provides a number of powerful messaging and mobility features, here are the first that CounterPath is making generally available:
- Wireline Messaging is the first feature of the platform. It allows wireline operators to SMS enable their existing telephone numbers and deliver voice and text messaging services to their subscribers using CounterPath Bria clients for desktop and mobile platforms, as well as other devices that support SIP SIMPLE. Wireline Messaging also includes a powerful presence capability adding an Instant Messaging and Presence service to the wireline provides offering.
- Wireline Mobility adds the ability to pair a mobile phone with a users account. Text messages and calls to a user’s wireline number are extended to their mobile phone. This works with any phone, on any operator, no app required. Users can also reply and initiate new messages and calls from their standard mobile handsets.
- Wireline Call Continuity adds the ability to move calls between VoIP devices and a user’s landline and mobile phones.
- Carriers can provide users with apps for their smart phones that make the mobile experience even better. Bria iPhone Edition or Bria Android Edition offer messaging and voice features that work with Wireline Mobility.
Perhaps most importantly, a user's wireline telephone number is their identity across all of these services. Wireline providers can provide their services to mobile phone users and leverage the mobility provided by these providers
Wireline Mobility is a summary product for CounterPath. It utilizes the company’s desktop clients, mobile clients, and Convergence server. We're excited to leverage all our products to help Operators create mobility and messaging solutions.