Many of the incumbent vendors are bringing their old IN (Intelligent Network) systems to end of life; and in some cases proposing technology that was built 5-10 years ago so is generally based on old or proprietary architectural principles, e.g. Ericsson TSP (Telecom Server Platform) – some of us may remember the TSP announcements made back in 2000. Unfortunately, such stale technology is not going down well with some operators. Hence, this has opened up an opportunity for a range of NG IN (Next Generation IN) vendors, e.g. Oracle, IBM, OpenCloud, jNETx, etc. Who are using standards based IT architectures, combined with a technology refresh to enable operators to do much more with their old voice networks.
Some ‘back of the envelope’ figures on the NG IN market size: assuming 1k operators refresh their IN, currently they’ll be paying on average between $10-20m in maintenance and other legacy related costs. Assuming NG IN comes in at 20% of the cost (which I’ve seen for a number of operators), that’s still a $2-4B market.
The move to NG IN is much more than simply implementing a standard IT architecture to lower platform costs and dramatically lower support costs. Many countries have implemented number portability, so most calls include an IN look-up. Hence, NG IN enables an amazing range of services to be added to the good old voice network. I show just a few examples below, many of which where discussed over 10 years ago. However, with the move to NG IN and the pervasiveness of the internet in most businesses, we finally have a chance to realize some of these convenient services.
- I call the dentist, make an appointment and its added to my calendar, I also receive an SMS alert reminder for the day before the dentist appointment;
- I call a pizza company’s 800 number and the call’s routed to their local office, without the need to enter my zip or share location information outside the carrier;
- When I’m traveling with a >5 hour timezone difference, at night in my current timezone the calls are interrogated before being connected to avoid those “middle of the night calls” from the US;
- I call a friend and as its ringing, a service announcement lets me know I could make this a video call or high quality audio call with the press of a button;
- Ring back when free is finally available;
- When an anonymous call comes in (without caller ID), they have to say who they are and wait until I confirm it’s OK to connect;
- I’m in a meeting, I receive a USSD message rather than a direct call, with the options to accept/reject/call-back;
- I call a restaurant to make a reservation, they place the appointment in my calendar and send me the restaurant contact details and menu via MMS;
- I call directory services, asking for the number of the nearest photocopy/printers, I receive an MMS with the contact details and directions from where I am.
- While on the phone to the local take-out deli, I pay for the pastrami-reuben (heavy on the sauerkraut, light on the cheese) using my phone account by just keying in the security code from my phone;
- I’m driving, a friend sends a text, they receive a reply asking to call if its urgent because I’m driving.
- I call my friend’s mobile, they’ve left their phone upstairs at their home so they do not hear the phone ringing, I call again and on no-answer for the second time the call diverts to the home phone.
These examples may not have the sizzle of some of the the Web2.0 use cases described in previous articles, but there’s still many opportunities to make calling more successful, convenient and connected to internet based services.