Just as the World Wide Web has evolved to Web 2.0, the telco realm is evolving to 'Telco 2.0' - and software giant Microsoft aims to lead the charge. At ITU Telecom World 2006 last month, Microsoft introduced its portfolio of products aimed squarely at the telco space. It included a new Connected Services Sandbox that provides ISVs and developers with an environment to test their services on Microsoft's Connected Services Framework service delivery platform.
Microsoft also showcased telco-targeted apps like hosted VoIP, email, PBX and IM that operators can offer to business customers, and its Windows Mobile platform - all of which will help telcos go 2.0, said Pieter Knook, senior VP for Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices division and Communications Sector business.
'Telco 2.0 takes a page from Web 2.0, where the Web has gone from straight HTML browsing to user-focused programmatic services connected to each other. It's not just IP, it's the apps that run on top of IP and how they work together,' Knook told Telecom Asia. 'With Telco 2.0, we're trying to apply the same concept to the telco space, where networks become data-centric instead of voice-centric, and services become more prominent and based on real cost of delivery. The emphasis won't be on connectivity but services - that's where the real money is.'
If that sounds like a familiar refrain (think 'convergence') well, it is. Knook admits that the basic tenets of Telco 2.0 - the converged data-centric network where services are IP apps that can be launched, torn down and blended together from hundreds of sources with relative ease - have been kicking around for years. 'But it hasn't been well adopted [by telcos],' he points out.
But that's already changing, he adds, if for no other reason that telcos have been forced into action by services like Skype.
'In Europe, operators are already bundling VoIP with DSL because they know that they have to move from a per-call or per-minute model to an unlimited voice plan,' Knook says, noting that 3G operators have already discovered that sleek, subscription-based bucket plans sell better than stuffy old-school metered services. 'Tariffs are increasingly becoming based on what you do on the network, not how much you do.'