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MobilityPLUS MVNO Service Architecture

Google Project Fi Challenges Incumbent MVNOs

Mobile communication is a competitive space where operators are striving to introduce new services to better compete with OTT and increase ARPU.

On the other end, mobile operators are looking to reduce their operating costs. One way to do so while also increasing user satisfaction is by enabling WiFi calling in their networks.

Earlier this year, competition in the US got even stronger with Google’s announcement of Project Fi. In essence, Google became an MVNO. Will they go global with Project Fi? If the pilot in the US succeeds, why shouldn’t they?

Project Fi

For Project Fi, Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile, using their LTE data networks. Users of Project Fi can make voice calls and send text messages over WiFi or the cellular data network with a seamless switchover between the networks. A call that started on a user’s home WiFi network will automatically switch over to Sprint or T-Mobile’s cellular network f when the user steps out of the house.

Putting the address book in Google’s cloud allow users access to the service also from their PCs and tablets.

Google also changed the standard cost model, offering a low-cost, monthly fee of $20 for unlimited domestic voice and text, unlimited international text and coverage in over 120 countries. Data runs at $10 per 1 GB. If not all the data is used, Google refunds the user for the unused portion of the package.

If Google is now an MVNO, where does this leave incumbent MVNOs?

MVNOs should innovate their services

MVNOs work differently than Google did in building Project Fi.

The typical MVNO buys voice, text and data in bulks from operators, puts their own service management on top and resells it to users at a lower cost than that offered by the operators.

Project Fi on the other hand, offers a device that uses only the data network (cellular or WiFi). Thus the service is part of the device dialer and operational costs for Google are lower.

The challenge for MVNOs in offering a service similar to Project Fi include:

  • The need to replace the device dialer to optimize user experience
  • The network should be able to receive calls on behalf of the user and direct them to his device as a VoIP call
  • Switching between cellular data and WiFi should be automatic and seamless. This needs to be supported both on the device and in the network.

 

AudioCodes’ MobilityPlus, provides MVNOs a way to realize this transition.

MobilityPLUS MVNO Service Architecture

Client side

The solution comprises of mobile clients that MVNOs can adopt and configure to be the default dialer of the Android device they offer to their customers.

The SIM card offered to the users will have cellular data services only, while the phone number is managed by the network. The device switches between cellular data and WiFi as required.

The dialer application includes AudioCodes advanced voice quality enhancement algorithms together with with modern voice codecs with error resiliency.

Network side

The network side includes AudioCodes SBC and an application that manages the user’s identity.  It places and receives calls on the user’s behalf and bridges between the VoIP network and other networks of termination partners, ensuring users can call destinations globally regardless of the operator they are using.

Switching between cellular data and WiFi is also supported by the network, allowing for in-call switch over.

Conclusion

Switching to pure IP based services allows MVNOs to reduce operation costs.  They won’t need to pay for the use the operator’s voice network by minutes but rather will use the cellular data only when the user is not connected to WiFi.

As competition in mobile market intensifies due to new offerings such as that of Google, cost reduction translates into the ability to reduce churn.

Mobile Roaming

To VoLTE or to OTT. That’s the question? Hmmmm…

This question has taken me back a few years when operators considered introducing Rich Communication Services (RCS) and the “to RCS or to OTT” question was raised as well. The answer is already known; RCS was proven to be a failure as users adopted OTT services instead. Operators have lost billions of dollars since the introduction of OTT services.
Although more than 300 mobile operators have already introduced LTE networks, only a few of them have introduced VoLTE. The reasons include significant technical challenges such as guaranteeing quality of service and very high costs.
VoLTE aims to guarantee HD voice when both ends are on the service, optimize networks and best utilize the frequencies, save battery consumption of the devices and more. Analysts have found that VoLTE can be a nice to have service but it neither increases the ARPU in the short term nor resolves the operator’s major concerns (such as declining roaming revenues or limited service coverage in rural areas, high towers and indoors) in the long term.Mobile Roaming

While operators are looking for a long term solution, there is a serious need to overcome these challenges now before it is too late. VoWifi has been recently introduced and might serve as a long term solution but it is not relevant for the immediate future as only a few mobile devices currently offer this capability. In addition, the technical challenges involved ensure that it’s a long way off until it is fully adopted.
So, is there a less costly, less complicated and much faster solution that overcome these challenges for mobile operators?
The answer is….. Yes. A mobile OTT communications solution consisting of mobile apps and backend servers, costs only a fraction of the invested capital in the new technologies, is fully deployed and operational in few months compared to years and so simple that it requires only the installation of an app by the customer would be a solution.

I have listed some of the challenges and the ways to overcome them by mobile OTT solutions.

The major concerns of mobile operators

Mobile operators have enjoyed high revenues in the past. Today they are facing serious threats from opportunistic OTTs who offer alternative services for little or no cost, causing a sharp decline in their roaming revenues. Limited service coverage in rural areas and high towers is still a concern, as this causes dissatisfaction and disruption of service.

Defending Roaming Revenues Strategies

In recent years, mobile operators have retaliated by adopting VoIP technology. Some have offered roaming VoIP plans utilizing available free Wi-Fi networks while other operators have offered bundled packages of GSM & VoIP over Wi-Fi. This solution was good but not good enough, neither for the operators who couldn’t guarantee high quality service due to the unpredictability of non-controlled Wi-Fi connections, nor for the roaming subscribers who had to search for available open Wi-Fi networks in certain areas and pay high prices due to the bundled high price of GSM roaming costs.

Nowadays, data roaming prices are low, data connectivity is available almost everywhere and operators have upgraded their data networks to support higher capacities. Operators are able to guarantee a higher quality of voice service at low prices, while their customers maintain their same cellular number when using the OTT communications apps.

AudioCodes’ MobilityPlus, ALL IP OTT communications solutions, which consist of white label mobile applications and backend servers, enable operators to offer low cost, yet profitable HD voice, video and messaging over IP services utilizing roaming data networks (3G, 4G, LTE).  This keeps their subscribers using their cellular numbers over IP networks. By doing this, operators promote a new bundle of roaming data and VoIP services. Subscribers who purchase cellular roaming data will have access to VoIP service as well, a service which increases subscriber loyalty.

Improving Service Coverage

Mobile operators are technically challenged, however, to increase service coverage in areas with limited coverage such as rural areas, high towers and indoors. Subscribers in these areas report a high rate of unsuccessful calls and disrupted service causing them to consider alternative solutions which in turn leads to a decrease in communication services revenues.

With the increase of Wi-Fi network availability readily found in these areas, customers receive calls and send texts over existing home and office Wi-Fi networks rather than the operator’s mobile network that is limited or does not exist.

AudioCodes’ MobilityPLUS OTT app supports Wi-Fi calling as a preloaded app within the subscribers’ smartphone (on Android smartphones) or as an OTT app that keeps the subscriber using his mobile number. MobilityPLUS enhances service coverage and guarantees HD voice quality when participants are on Wi-Fi networks.

Continuous Service Connectivity Mobile operators who have adopted VoIP technologies to overcome today’s challenges need to address the lack of continuous service connectivity when subscribers move between Wi-Fi and data networks and vice versa.  Until now, subscribers who were on a VoIP call over Wi-Fi could not move to a data network (3G/4G) without having the call dropped. In many cases, the user disconnected and redialled when moving to another network. Not Anymore. AudioCodes’ MobilityPLUS assures mobility with continuous connectivity, guaranteeing a seamless handover between Wi-Fi to 3G/4G and vice versa. The solution combines AudioCodes’ MobilityPLUS Mobile OTT and Mediant SBC solutions, leveraging unique SBC capabilities and leading mobile VoIP technology.

VocaNOM People

Mobilize Your Users or Stay Behind

[Post is better viewed on the blog Website]

With very few players providing mobile communication services before the smartphone era, it felt like heaven for some major mobile service providers. But then mobile OTT apps kicked in! And ruined the party.

Oh, the Good Old Days

What was it like to be the CEO of a mobile carrier back in the days? Having a huge user dependency on cellular infrastructure and running in a playground where the smartphone is yet to be on-shelf, data revenues were booming and profits seemed well assured.

But in today’s mobile reality, OTT mobile apps are posing a huge threat for all service providers and carriers alike. Data revenues are continuously dropping. Being a CEO of a mobile service provider today means you’re in a war that you’re probably not too familiar with; Not a war between giants, but between viral mobile startups who are able to take the market within a year, to slow-moving, monopoly-DNA’ed creatures who now realize the urgent need for a decent battle.

Alongside mobile carriers who are struggling to cope with the booming OTT mobile market, the enterprise sector stays stuck in the middle. IT departments have to be impossibly flexible when they need to provide an organizational infrastructure that’s as easy as WhatsApp but well secured and comprehensively managed like Microsoft Lync.

VocaNOM People

No sweat, No Sweets

Building a solid mobile application arsenal for the OTT battle is not only fruitful, but also crucial for a service provider to stay in the game. AudioCodes is constantly aiming to enable mobile carriers and enterprises to cope with the modern OTT challenge in telecom. MobilityPLUS, an OTT mobile application for service providers and carriers, makes a classic 1-stop solution with its all round voice, messaging, video and social features. For a mobile carrier, the ability to distribute HQ mobile VoIP user-clients to its subscribers, freely branded and thoroughly integrated makes it an ultimate weapon for its OTT war. Roaming, a well-known incentive for users to go OTT, can finally be untangled and brought back to the service provider playground not just for data but for native voice communication as well at competitive costs and top-tier service quality.

A Foot on the Gas for the Enterprise

VocaNOM, a cloud-driven voice communication app for businesses and organizations, is a good example of how the enterprise market can also start making its way forward in the mobile app plot. Organizational and business contacts are always a mess to handle when you have an organizational phone directory that has zero-connectivity with a user’s smartphone.  For an enterprise, being able to manage all organizational contacts on the cloud, providing easy access and dialling for its users using voice recognition, is simply great if it wishes to stay up-to-speed and serve its organizational users with top-notch communication tools.

AudioCodes at SMW C2014

Time to Take Mobile Communication Forward

These are only few examples of how holding off the OTT turbulence is more than possible for service providers and enterprise, given the right tools and applications. At CTIA 2014 Super Mobility Week, we will be meeting up with service providers and enterprises to talk about what AudioCodes can do for them to mobilize organizational and commercial users all at once. I feel like whether you’re a service provider or an enterprise IT manager, there’s a lot we can do for you to empower your user-base.

See you in Vegas!

To schedule a meeting with AudioCodes at CTIA 2014 Super Mobility Week, visit:

http://www.audiocodes.com/events/ctia-2014