Meanwhile, equipment vendors are already scrambling to capitalize on the need to link apps with IP networks with service layer architecture solutions promising to do just that. Juniper Networks is promoting Junos Space with open APIs allowing operators and third parties to develop new services to run over its MX routers. NSN is leveraging its professional services experience to help operators build individual service layer solutions. And Alcatel-Lucent is proposing a blend of the two, with plans to offer a suite of tools for apps developers and content owners to access network functionalities, and a cloud-based aggregation service called Open API that will serve as a creation environment and test bed for apps, both of which will be bundled into its professional services portfolio.
Other vendors are focusing on different ways to leverage network intelligence. Tellabs, for example, says it will leverage advanced deep packet inspection technology (via its recent purchase of WiChorus) and analytics to help monetize services.
"Let's say Google wants to get information to my handheld, and we can use the packet core to allocate QoS and bandwidth so HD video can get to my phone and maybe Google will pay an extra amount of money for that," says Tellabs CEO Rob Pullen. "Or take an app where you can look up restaurants in that area. We can take it to another level where all of the restaurants know you're in that area and send you specials and coupons, and if you use that coupon, the service provider gets a fee for that. We can use the intelligence in the core to offer these kinds of personalized services in the future."
Privacy and neutrality
To be sure, operators will have to be careful about a tiered bandwidth pricing strategy - especially when it's aimed at content providers - depending on the local regulator's position on net neutrality.
In fact, that goes for tools that depend on leveraging user data profiles to create apps and services, which will have to comply with local privacy regulations governing the use and security of such data.
On the bright side, there are standards already available that can help cellcos manage profile information, such as the Open Mobile Alliance's Global Permission Management (GPM) standard, says Moriana Group's Kimbler.
"The OMA is addressing how requested data can be shared in a secure, controlled manner - i.e., "ask consent" responses," he explains. "In that example, consent is asked for and if procured, an SDP can 'secretly' expose subscriber data through web services or other APIs that apply OMA GPM. That is just one example of how service providers can monetize useful information without compromising subscriber privacy and security."