Mark Windle, head of marketing at OpenCloud, looks ahead to 2014 - a year that promises the introduction of innovative new voice services, an increase in IMS investment from operators and the first Pan-European carrier.
The year of winning back the business?
LTE was a major market disruptor in 2013, with a notable impact on the competitive landscape for the immediate future as operators look for returns on their spectrum investment. The provision of high capacity data access brings increasing risk to operators of becoming commodity data access providers.
As OTT services and apps increase their viability for mass consumer adoption they further erode operators’ shares of the communication services market. Operators need to channel efforts into true innovation to consolidate their subscriber bases and reclaim revenues that we all know have shown big tendencies to slip away to freebie service providers.
We’ll see more operators launching VoLTE services in 2014. Currently, several LTE enabled operators only offer voice over their legacy networks, using LTE for data, and circuit switch fall back to GSM for voice, but also opening the way for OTT providers to benefit from LTE’s increased bandwidth. Using legacy networks for voice offers the same service as currently exists but without the ability to implement the new features or services that should come with moving to an IP network. It’s an opportunity that operators cannot afford to miss; real service innovation will be essential. In 2014 we can expect to see some interesting new voice services, exclusive to an all-IP environment, with real differentiation, enabling successful competition with OTT brands in the battle for voice market share.
The year of IMS
Operators are increasingly realising that services need to work across any device, any network. Voice services on IP are critical in achieving this, especially for operators seeking to become leading communication services brands rather than simple providers of a conduit to serve the business plans of others. In 2014, operators will start shifting to all-IP and will actively move towards VoLTE, Voice-over-IP-over-3G and WebRTC, in all of which IMS will play a role. The transition to all-IP networks, and the increasing multiple-ownership of connected devices, will increase operator investment in IMS throughout 2014.