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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mobile - the holy grail of advertising?

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Closes midnight tonight GMT. Final chance to have your say. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in a few weeks' time. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

As part of the market study we're running with the Converged Service Practice of STL (www.stlpartners.com), and following my post below about innovative mobile business models, I had a very interesting call today with David Tymm, the CEO of a small but highly innovative UK company called i-Movo (www.i-movo.com).

Together with i-Text they have created a service that allows sales promotion vouchers to be delivered to mobile phone users and redeemed via any channel (handset, credit card, EPOS system, kiosks, PDAs). In return for receiving targeted advertising, consumers get free text credits ('text for free').

This is great news for advertisers and consumers, but (today) the operators get virtually nothing from it. Below I describe why it's important and how it works. In this month's edition of the IMS Insider report we describe what operators need to do to take advantage of this and other innovative service models (to receive the report subscribe at
www.ims-insider.com).

Why is this interesting? Mobile operators are looking for content around which they can create sticky services. Content is expensive. Premium content (TV, print) is funded primarily by advertising. But advertising is costly and, with increasing media fragmentation, is wasted and/or unmeasureable. DVR technology (like Tivo) already allows consumers to filter advertising. So, is the mobile phone is the answer?

Last year the Financial Times ran a piece suggesting that mobiles will soon replace TV as the prime ad medium. Recent studies have shown that 75%+ of mobile phones are kept switched on over sixteen hours a day (mine certainly is), and two-thirds of mobile users claim that if they had to make a choice, the mobile phone is “the device they most want to keep” (only 12% opted for TV).

Online advertising has had a resurgence recently, but compared to the potential of mobile even that looks very hit and miss. Pay-Per-Click models (from Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc) are open to difficult-to-detect “click-fraud” (I was warned by Google to tell my employees not to click on the ads on the top of this blog). Pay-Per-Call models (Skype/eBay) are an improvement, but it is still nearly impossible to distinguish a “sale” from “enquiry”. Pay-Per-Action models (provided by the SNAP search engine, well worth a look at
http://www.snap.com/about/about.php?last_link_type=about) is interesting because advertisers only gets pay SNAP when the user completes a purchase or other action.

So, The Economist in September described 'pay-for-sale narrowcast advertising over the mobile phone' as “The holy grail of advertising". Here's why:

•Customers are rewarded for active participation in marketing promotions
•Advertisers are charged only when their message is viewed
•The market sets the rate-card
•Each element of the process is measured
•The ROI for marketing campaigns can at last be calculated

It works like this:


1.) The advertiser selects a target customer segment (by Age Group, Lifestage, Region, Gender).
2.) The advertiser “bids” the amount of free texting customers can get for each “viewing” of the advertisement (they are listed in order of generosity to consumer)
3.) The customer views advertisements of interest (the message may include the offer of an i-movo voucher for redemption online, at a store, at a kiosk, etc)
4.) i-text “credits” customers' accounts of sponsored texts
5.) The customer creates texts using standard phone functions (Editor, Address Book, T9 etc; messages are sent over GPRS data channel at a cost of £0 - £0.02; customer may also send texts from their PC for free).


Consumers get a good deal (free texting and vouchers for discounted goods), the advertisers get highly targeted promotions that they can measure, the aggregators get paid for delivering the texts through different networks, but...today the poor old mobile operator gets a tiny inter-charge fee.

Clearly, there is a big opportunity for mobile operators to play a bigger role here.... We'll be describing what this can be and how to do it in this month's IMS Insider report (www.ims-insider.com).

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com


Monday, January 30, 2006

World's biggest online IMS Attitude Survey

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 2 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

The IMS Insider online IMS Attitude Survey is closing Tuesday at midnight GMT. So far we've had over 300 practitioners taking part. A big thank you to all those who have.

The survey, deliberately short and simple, has looked at current perceptions of:

- The importance of IMS
- The key drivers for adoption
- The relative importance of implementation issues
- The current performance of operators against these key issues
- The timing for adoption of IMS for different operator types
- Which operators are leading the field in IMS strategy
- Which vendors are leading the field in IMS solutions

Survey participants have come from all different operator types (fixed, mobile and fixed-mobile converged), ISPs, NEP and IT vendors, content providers, ISVs and consultants. All the continents have been represented (apart from Antarctica!), and 40% of the respondents have been commercial (non-technical).

What Next?
We will be analysing the results this week and will produce a report in PDF form next week. This will then be sent free of charge to all participants. (One or two people only filled in their names and didn't participate in the survey - unfortunately, they won't qualify for a free report.)

Phase Two

The big issue, of course, is what sorts of services should IMS be enabling. Our view is that there needs to be a significant change in the way operators are organised (structures, processes and capabilities) if they are to develop the sorts of high value services that take advantage of IMS, pre-IMS and IMS-type architectures.

So, over the next 3-4 weeks we will be conducting depth interviews with key people in the industry with the aim of identifying how this change should occur.

We will be gathering people's views on:
- What 'convergence' really means and the precise opportunities and threats it brings to the industry?
- What 'future proofing' developments (at an industry and company level) are going well and what are not, and why?
- What's working well with today's service development processes and what isn't, and why?
- How do service development processes need to change to take advantage of an IP-based world?
- What is the technology roadmap to a future IP-based converged world? What is the role of SDPs? What are the interim solutions?
- What does the organisational change roadmap look like?
- Which industries and companies do we need to learn from more to make an effective leap forward?

In parallel with these interviews we will be conducting desk research into:
- IMS market sizing (updating the refining the current metrics)
- Best practice in IP-based service development from other industries

We will combine the output from the online survey with the qualitative interviews and the desk research to produce a unique Market Study focusing on 'How to manage New Converged Service Development in an increasingly IP-based world?' Details of contents and price* to follow...

(* NB: This Market Study will be free to subscribers of IMS Insider - go to www.ims-insider.com for details - and phase two interviewees only, payable for others.)

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Verizon and Yahoo launch co-branded FiOS

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 5 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

I'm sure everyone's seen the announcement about Verizon's deal with Yahoo around FiOS (see below). Another great example of how the world's changing. Just think of all the opportunities for converged IP-based services...!

Next week on this blog, as a prelude to the launch of the 'New Converged Services' practice at our sister consulting company STL (www.stlpartners.com), we'll discuss what telco operators can learn about new product development from Google and other fast moving internet companies. And in this coming month's IMS Insider Report, based on recent interviews and analysis, we'll be presenting an in-depth roadmap of how, practically, operators can to a new paradigm for (converged) service development (www.ims-insider.com).

Verizon, Yahoo Launch Co-Branded FiOS

Verizon Communications and Yahoo announced on Thursday the launch of a co-branded broadband service that delivers Internet access at up to 30 Mbits/s via Verizon's FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) network plus a number of Yahoo extras.

The Verizon Yahoo for FiOS service builds on an agreement that the companies announced last year to offer integrated online services to Verizon's subscriber base. The new service is now available to Verizon customers in 15 states where the telco is working to deploy its fiber-optic network.

"Yahoo has been focused on the broadband arena for several years and in late 2005 we launched Verizon Yahoo for DSL," a Yahoo representative said. "The Verizon Yahoo for DSL and Verizon Yahoo for FiOS services are essentially the same; it's just a question of delivery method."

Verizon customers with FiOS access in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia now have free access to a number of Yahoo features, via a service-specific Web site. The integrated option also boasts connection capabilities at 5 to 30 Mbits/s downstream or 2 to 5 Mbits/s upstream, according to officials.
Verizon offers three tiers of its FiOS Internet service: For $34.95 per month (and an annual service plan) users receive 5 Mbits downstream/2 Mbits upstream connection speeds. For $44.95 per month, plus a service plan, they're upgraded to 15 Mbits downstream and 2 Mbits upstream. Have a need for speed? Get ready to pay: $179.95 per month buys a customer 30 Mbits downstream and 5 Mbits upstream connectivity capability.

"Consumers are into different things – from politics to tech security issues to music videos," said a Yahoo spokesperson. "The new FiOS service was designed with our customers in mind and includes all of those elements. We offer everything across the board."

Read the rest of this PC Magazine story: "Verizon, Yahoo Launch Co-Branded FiOS"


The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Innovation in mobile business model - early days

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 6 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

With news yesterday of Vodafone's ARPU levels under pressure in its major markets from stiff competition and regulatory drives to cut prices, and a recent report showing mobile operator staff muddled by their own tariffs (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/06/unhappy_cellcos/) it's interesting to see (below) some examples of service innovation - old-style and new.

The first is a good old-fashioned innovation in marketing promotion, the second is a first tiny step towards opening up the value chain (in this case to advertisers) and innovating with the fundamental business model.

NB: Subscribers to our monthly IMS Insider report (www.ims-insider.com) will have seen how the latter concept can be dramatically expanded, using IMS and IMS-type systems, to create multi-faceted high revenue-generating propositions (see our flagship movie rental proposition scenario).

1.) 3 Customers to get Paid for Calls
Source: BWCS Staff, www.bwcs.com

"3 UK, the Hutchison-Whampoa-backed Greenfield 3G operator, is to launch a new service which will pay customers for receiving voice calls and text messages.

The new service, christened “WePay”, will reward customers with a £0.05 per minute credit for calls received and £0.02 for each text received, customers will then be able to spend the credit on their 3 service at any time in the 30 days after the call or text has been received.

The company plans to introduce the service to its 3.2 million UK users next month. In a statement it said that it will use “WePay” to reward loyal customers by giving them free airtime to spend on texts, calls, music or mobile TV services.

According to 3, by receiving a five minute call, customers will rack up enough credit to watch a highlight from their favourite TV show (if it is available via mobile) or to send two text messages."

2. ) Mobile ads to pay for free texting
By Tim Richardson, The Register. Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/23/mobile_ads/

Mobile phone users are being offered the chance to send text messages for free in return for viewing ads on their phones. The service is due to be unveiled later this month with the firm behind it busy recruiting punters to take part in beta testing. Exactly how many free texts peoplewill receive depends entirely on how many advertisers are prepared to give away.

I-movo - a mobile marketing company whose clients include Nectar and All Bar One - has hooked up with mobile technology provider i-text to launch the service.

"In an industry where results are typically difficult to quantify, this system is set to provide some real benefits," said i-movo md David Tymm. "It goes way beyond the traditional 'pay per click' models established by search engines to provide much greater measurability of all advertising success."

Elsewhere, research from Strategy Analytics found that one in five mobile users in Europe would consider ditching their landline altogether and stick instead with their cellphone.

One in five homes in Europe is already "mobile only", says the report, and cellcos should be encouraged that such a large numbers of punters would consider pulling the plug on their fixed line phone.

But the research found that those most likely to cut their ties with a fixed line operator were younger people - especially if the cost of calls fell to landline rates. Older peeps and those with families were more likely to plump for triple pay services.

"We found massive interest in the ability to call from home on your cellphone at landline rates, something both cellular operators and fixed-mobile operators can offer," said David Kerr, a VP at Strategy Analytics." (Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/23/mobile_ads/)


The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

TISPAN WG4 Workshop - NGN Interconnect & Numbering

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 7 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

Some very useful presentations (if technical) from a recent ETSI TISPAN workshop on NGN Interconnection and numbering issues. This was posted on the excellent Voip & Enum blog http://www.voipandenum.blogspot.com/:

"Last week ERO hosted an ETSI TISPAN WG4 meeting and also a TRIS Meeting in Copenhagen. WG4 is the workgroup in ETSI TISPAN dealing with Numering, Naming, Addressing and Routing Issues, and TRIS is a European Regulators Group (ECC PT2) and stands for Technical Regulation & Interconnection Standards.

John Horrocks (DTI), chairman of TRIS and vice-chair of TISPAN WG4, organized a joint workshop between TRIS and TISPAN WG4 on Wednesday. Since TISPAN WG had also a joint session with representatives from the GSM Association (GSMA) on Tuesday, speakers and partizipants from GSMA where also available. The workshop was attended by 60 people and had to close registration early because of limited floor space. Both the speakers and the audience represented an interesting cross section of the European Telecomunicatuons scene, including regulators, operators, ISPs and manufacturers. There was even an representative from NTT Japan present.

John Horrocks opened the workshop by setting the scene with an Overview of NGN – its services and interconnection, including “simulation” and “emulation” and the numbering options.

Tim Wright (BT Wholesale) continued with a presentation of BT’s 21C network and its roll-out, migration and interconnection options.

Jean Craveur (France Telecom) followed with the plans of France Telecom on PSTN renewal, NGN and triple play offers, IMS and fixed-mobile convergence.

Back to UK, Paul Rosbotham (C&W) presented the other side of BT's 21CN, the effects of incumbent migration to NGN on new operators and interconnection, including the options considered in UK and effects on numbering and number portability.

John Horrocks presented the ideas currently discussed at TRIS to consider a new model for interconnection.The last presentation before lunch was done by Niall Halpenny (GSM Association) on the current GSMA plans and developments on IP Interworking (IPI), including the current SIP Trials and the future plans to enhance the current GPRS Interconnect Network (GRX) to the IPX, a network of networks open to interconnect with the CRX, fixed operators and everybody. Basically a second and better Internet ;-) - see also the afternoon presentation from Kim Fullbrook.

The morning presentations gave the big picture, the afternoon presentations where more technical and more related to specific numbering, interconnect and QoS issues.

John Horrocks (DTI) started again with an overview on numbering and naming for call routing, this time presenting the models currently discussed at TISPAN WG4.I followed with the developments around Infrastructure ENUM and also on VoIP Peering and Interconnect within the IETF, reporting from the re-chartering of the ENUM WG to include Infrastructure ENUM and also the WG-to-be SPEERMINT (Session PEERing for Multimedia INTerconnect.

Kim Fullbrook (O2 & GSMA) presented more in detail the plans from GSMA on IPX and Carrier/Infrastructure ENUM. In essence he was telling the same like anybody else setting up an Infrastructure ENUM tree: there can only be one global Infrastructure ENUM tree and why not ours?

Rob Borthwick (Vodafone) reviewed the TRIS Interconnection models and presented new charging models for MMS and premium services interworking.

The last two sessions concentrated on one of the central points the NGNs are marketed to be different from the Internet: QoS.John Horrocks presented: Delivering end-end quality – the state of the art (what we know and what we do not know) and priorities for the futureand Andy Reid (BT) Traffic management and congestion control.The workshop was well organized and gave an excellent overview on the current status of discussion on NGN Interconnect." [For more interesting commentary go to http://www.voipandenum.blogspot.com/].

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

Monday, January 23, 2006

Convergence - A tiny example

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 8 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

Of all the many exciting things at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the other week (www.cesweb.org) the one that caught my attention was one of the smallest. It is a USB 'phone drive', from Korean company Iocell (www.iocell.com), which automatically (plug and play) runs VOIP when it is plugged in to the USB port of a computer. (See photo below).

It's yet another example of the many facets of 'convergence' (in this case between phone 'device' and consumer electronics, although there's really no traditional 'phone' here at all), that will increasingly affect the telco industry if it can't move fast into an IMS-like world. While IMS architectures take their time to be built, much can be done to create compelling service propositions, leveraging new IT and IP technologies, if the operators can think out-of-the-box (the theme of this blog, of course!!).

We'll feature more examples of convergence (big and small) on this blog in the coming months, as part of a new 'Register of Convergent Services' we're launching to complement our 'IMS Deployments Register'. More information email me at editor@ims-insider.com.



Here's the full press release:

'IOCELL Unveils the "PhoneDrive," Portable USB Device for VoIP

LAS VEGAS, NV -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 01/06/2006 -- CES Conference -- IOCELL, leading provider of USB and the C2 platform, announces the release of its PhoneDrive, a USB type device which allows users to make digital phone calls over the Internet. The extraordinary PhoneDrive device with USB flash memory connects you with anyone from anywhere. The PhoneDrive is a unique device that allows you to place calls worldwide from a PC or laptop with Internet connection. Use the PhoneDrive to call any type of phone in the world at a fraction of the cost of traditional telephones all with amazing sound quality and the additional feature of flash memory.

"The PhoneDrive is a revolutionary product that will allow people to communicate with one another from anywhere in the world at a much more affordable cost compared to using traditional LAN line and mobile phones," explains Byung S. Kang, CEO of IOCELL. "More and more people are beginning to use the VoIP to make phone calls; however, to make calls over the Internet one needs to use routers and bulky phones. The PhoneDrive can fit inside your pants pocket and be carried anywhere."

In addition to its VoIP feature, the PhoneDrive can also be used to store files and information, similar to traditional flash memory devices with capacities of 128 MB to 2 GB. The PhoneDrive is portable and very easy to install and use with its plug and play feature with no installation of drivers required.

The PhoneDrive offers excellent voice quality with a built-in sound card and retractable ear phone set that delivers high-performance sound. Other features of the PhoneDrive include a Softphone Menu which displays Caller ID, address, rate, current date and time information. For protection of the product, the Internet telephony (VoIP) software program in the PhoneDrive is not visible and indelible since it is loaded in the hidden area of the flash memory where the operating system cannot access.

IOCELL is preparing the PhoneDrive for distribution in the U.S. through VoIP service providers and partners.
http://www.iocell.com/"

The Editor
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

IMS - Inspired or Insane?

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 8 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

I'm delighted to announce a partnership between IMS Insider and Moriana Group (www.morianagroup.com). Moriana are IMS analysts par excellence and publishers of the 'Operator Guide to IMS' (we call it "the bible"). The new version of this guide - a collosal piece of research and analysis - is being launched at 3GSM in Feb, but you can pre-order your copy (it's free) at the Moriana website.

Amongst other things (watch this space), we will be working with Moriana on the Market Study that will come out of our online IMS Attitude Survey (see above). The study will combine results of the survey with feedback from 1-on-1 interviews with key IMS/future services professionals within major operators and our review of recent market sizing reports. This study will nicely complement the Operator Guide and is free to participants in the online survey only.

In the meantime, to warm you up to some of the issues we'll be tackling, I recommend the excellent telepocalypse blog to all our readers. Martin Geddes, the author consults to some of the big players on "living with dumb pipes" and "the future of telephony". His view is that IMS veers between "inspired and insane". Have a read: http://www.telepocalypse.net/archives/000787.html. We'll be building on some of his superbly provocative points in our Market Study.

The Editor
Editor@ims-insider.com
http://www.ims-insider.com

Friday, January 20, 2006

IMS Asia - Major Conference & Exhibition, 21-23 March 06

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 11 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

We're delighted to endorse the IMS Asia Conference and Exhibition run by Informa on 21-23 March at the majestic Singapore Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel. Informa also do the hugely successful IMS World Forum and 3GSM of course. The programme and line up of speakers at the Asia event is tremendous, and Informa events always have the best delegate list for top quality networking. Here's more information and link to their site:

Informa Telecoms & Media are proud to present IMS Asia, the largest and most comprehensive IMS event designed exclusively for the Asian market. The agenda is designed to help companies in this space analyse and fully understand the opportunities presented by this rapidly developing technology. Hear from 10 world class operators who will share their experiences so far. The program also includes 5 interactive panel discussions to give you the opportunity to have your questions answered by the experts.

Learn from Top Industry Experts, including:
*HK CSL * Advanced Info Service * Telecom Italia * The GSM Association * TOT Corp * Korea Telecom * France Telecom * The SIP Forum * Deutsche Telekom * TeliaSonera * Teleglobe Canada * Maxis Communications Berhad *
For further information please visit:
www.telecoms.com/imsasia

NB: The IMS Insider CEO will be speaking at the IMS World Forum in Amsterdam in April. Watch this space...

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mobile TV trial results

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 13 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

Below is an excellent analysis of the results of the recent Mobile TV trials in the UK with O2 and Virgin, by Marek Pawlowski who writes the excellent PMN Mobile User Experience newsletter (www.pmn.co.uk). (Lots of other good stuff on his site, by the way.)

Considering the business model, Marek asks how much additional core communications business (SMS, calls) the mobile TV usage stimulated, and suspects very little. He says near the end of his piece "...mobile TV will never be a significant profit generator for network operators as a standalone service...but it will be sold as an integrated package of home entertainment by the major media companies [my italics]."


At IMS Insider, we couldn't couldn't agree more. But the opportunity that IMS brings is for Operators themselves to create the 'integrated package of home entertainment' - to offer home entertainment service propositions that combine the power of mobile TV (for what it's best at - clips and promotions) with core telco communications services and new models of advertising to support cheaper content.

If you couple this with Federated Identity (see my previous posting), then you put mobile operators at the centre of this new world, not the media companies.Subscribers to the IMS Insider monthly report will have seen how this works in detail via the future IMS-based Movie rental service scenario we've been developing. For those who'd like to access this subscribe at www.ims-insider.com or email me at Editor@ims-insider.com for more information.

The bigger picture with mobile TV

There has been extensive press coverage over the last few days of two mobile broadcast trials in the UK. Virgin and BT Movio reported the results of their DAB-based test while O2 and Arqiva shared the findings of their DVB-H trial. The two studies varied considerably in their conclusions, highlighting differences in the approaches adopted by both groups. They also fell short of revealing other key metrics, such as the effect of mobile TV handsets on other revenue generating services such as voice and SMS.

Key findings
- Users are willing to pay GBP 8 per month for access to mobile TV services [Virgin]
- Mobile TV was the first multi-channel TV experience for 31 percent of users [O2]
- There is greater demand for radio than TV services on mobile handsets [Virgin]
- 36 percent of viewing was done in the home, compared to 23 percent at work/college [02]
- Average viewing times varied considerably between the two trials, with O2 users viewing for more than 3 hours per week while Virgin trialists tuned in for just over an hour per week.

These results raise a number of questions. Firstly, how much of an impact does handset form factor have on the time spent viewing mobile TV services? The O2 trial used Nokia's 'widescreen' 7710 handset, while Virgin deployed a standard 'monobloc' Windows Mobile smartphone. O2 users reported viewing times three times longer than those of the Virgin trialists. I believe the enhanced screen quality, superior usability and more natural viewing angle of the 7710 played a significant role in this.O2 also offered more channels (16 in total), including most of the UK's standard terrestial stations, thereby providing users with access to familiar content and a compelling 'demo' to show to their friends and family.However, viewing times are not necessarily the most relevant metric.

The economic case for mobile TV remains unproven and it doesn't matter how long users are willing to watch for if they aren't willing to pay a correspondingly higher price for the service and the handset.It would be interesting to know, for instance, how many users continued to carry their standard mobile handset for making calls and sending texts during the trial. I would suspect this would be quite a high percentage among O2 trialists, who would be unlikely to switch to a device as large and cumbersome as the 7710 if they had an ongoing requirement for high voice usage for either business or personal reasons. The Virgin trial, which used a device with a form factor more similar to the handsets on which most users will expect to receive their mobile TV service is probably a better indicator of potential uptake.

Another unanswered question is raised by O2's finding that most viewing occured in the home. PMN have long held the view that the mobile environment is fundamentally incompatible with traditional TV consumption. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the highest number of viewing minutes were recorded in the home, where the immersive experience of viewing television on a small screen device is more practical.What effect, then, will the rising popularity of home media sharing have on the popularity of viewing TV on a mobile phone.

Will users still choose to view TV on their mobile handsets when they have a house unwired with a Wi-Fi network for sharing TV, music collections and video libraries on any laptop, PC or TV screen? As O2 found, the mobile TV experience was the first time nearly a third of users had watched multi-channel TV. Their higher viewing figures could be as much a factor of novelty as genuine enthusiasm for TV in the mobile form factor.Returning to the economic practicalities, there are several issues to be addressed regarding standards, network build-out costs and handset availability.

Virgin and BT used existing DAB infrastructure for their trial. The spectrum is available today, much of the infrastructure is already in place and it also comes with the added benefit of providing access to the UK's mature market for DAB radio.O2, on the other hand, used the DVB-H technology more widely supported within EU countries, but mired in spectrum availability issues and requiring the deployment of new infrastructure. Indeed, O2 has already started talking to other operators about the possibility of sharing the costs of network construction and is lobbying the government to address the spectrum issues.

DVB-H benefits from the support of Nokia, the world's leading handset manufacturer, which is already making aggressive moves to solve the economic case on the terminal side. The Finnish manufacturer has the scale and financial resources to invest in developing DVB-H handsets at a loss if it guarantees a leadership role and profitability in the future.DAB lacks an individual champion with the strength of Nokia, but the market for chipsets and terminals is already well developed because of the widespread popularity of digital radio in the UK and several other territories around the world.

Companies like RadioScape, which pioneered the use of DAB to deliver multimedia content to mobile devices, are working on software-based radio technology which could eventually lead to the development of an integrated DAB and W-CDMA chipset for mobile devices.

From a cost perspective, it is tempting to see streaming TV - as supported by Vodafone, Three and Orange - as a less expensive alternative. It is supported by existing technology, the economies of scale are already in place for handsets and it can be delivered today using previously allocated spectrum. However, the costs are still there, they are just more evenly dispersed throughout the deployment cycle: the reality is that most UK network operators will require significant capacity upgrades and most likely the introduction of the HSDPA upgrade to their 3G networks if streaming TV becomes a mass market service.

The broadcast model, although it may have higher upfront costs for network infrastructure and handset investment, should prove cheaper in the long-term.O2 and Virgin have both taken positive steps in conducting these trials. They have gathered valuable operational experience and 'prepped' the industry for the commercial introduction of these services later in 2006.

I believe, however, that mobile TV will never be a significant profit generator for network operators as a standalone service. The fundamentals of viewing video content in the mobile environment limit the usefulness of this application and therefore limit the amount users will be willing to pay. Mobile TV will become mainstream - by 2010 it will be a standard feature on most mid-range handsets in the UK - but it will be sold as an integrated package of home entertainment by the major media companies.

Small wonder, then, that Richard Branson has been willing to accept a lower payment for his share in Virgin Mobile to ensure the merger with cable company NTL proceeds. As the largest single shareholder in the combined group, he will be uniquely positioned to drive the media convergence which will be essential to the success of mobile TV." [For more excellent analysis from Marek, go to www.pmn.co.uk]

The Editor -
editor@ims-insider.com www.ims-insider.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Report on Federated Identity and IMS

(The IMS Insider Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 14 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants-only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

I'm delighted to announce the publication of this month's IMS Insider Report (to access it go
www.ims-insider.com). Below is a taster from the Introduction (and an example of how France Telecom is approaching the topic).

Regards
The Editor
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

...In this edition of IMS Insider, we introduce readers to the concept of Federated Identity – a way for mobile operators to securely and automatically broker customer identity information across a network of online service providers to provide a larger volume of personalised and relevant IP-based services to end-users without them having to undertake multiple log-ins with sign-ons. It’s all the rage with the R&D departments at the most of the mobile and FMC operators in Europe. But why is it relevant to IMS?

If we think of the end goal of enabling the customer to experience a far richer set of relevant services, IMS provides network capabilities to support the operator deliver its own branded offerings, while Federated Identity enables the operator to be at the centre of delivering a continual stream of innovative new 3rd party services to the customer…while at the same time and retaining control of the billing relationship.

Just like IMS, Federated Identity is coming out of the technology ‘closet’ right now. The major operators (led by the Europeans) have been running trials over the last year and more and more RFP’s are emerging on the market.

This month's IMS Insider describes the concept in detail, we introduce the Liberty Alliance (
www.projectliberty.org) and its glossary of Federated Identity terms, and shows how it relates to and enhances the (IMS based) future Movie download service proposition we presented last month and which ranked high on our ‘IP-Services Revenue Scorecard’.

Our view is that mobile and FMC operators can gain best competitive advantage by developing a commercial strategy for IMS in tandem with Federated Identity. These are two breakthrough concepts that will suffer from being silo’d.


Case Study – France Telecom

France Telecom Group (FT) was a founding member of the Liberty Alliance in 2001. They joined because there was a growing need to minimize the number of login/passwords for the end user, a need for share user profiles between services within the Group. At the time the existing ways of doing this were not satisfactory.


Ultimately, FT is aiming to move from an account-centric to a user-centric business model: “The customer is at the heart of his personal universe” is how they describe it. It is looking to increase customer satisfaction by breaking down the boundaries between its service offers (FT, Wanadoo, Orange, and Equant) – a so called ‘integrated operator’ strategy.

It recognizes it has two key challenges to achieving this. Firstly, creating a large community of 3rd party Service Providers for the group’s customers and, secondly, creating effective synergy between the FT group Business Units.

To creating a community of 3rd party Service Providers it is looking to simplify and harmonize the process of on-boarding them – from an integration for each Business unit to one standard integration. It is also looking to consolidate the existing third party services catalogues that are available in 7 countries (via Orange) onto one central service platform.

To achieve this, FT needed a standard, and Liberty Alliance federated identity approach was chosen. FT wanted to simplify access to FT services for all its customer. It wanted to be able to create a synergistic set of new combined (‘convergent’) offers and offer a high quality user experience through Single Sign-On.

FT chose Liberty because it was (and is) the only existing standard for federation, it is secure and privacy-friendly, it is adaptable to specific operator requirements, there are existing products to support it with proven interoperability (to minimize costs of integration and testing), and because it is simple to integrate with for 3rd party service providers (due to links with open source libraries).

Wanadoo is currently using Liberty standards for all its own brand and affiliate services. While the aim is for Orange to provide a central technical framework for content adaptation, mobile and web portal, access to Orange ‘enablers’ (SMS, MMS, Location, etc) and billing integration. Orange will also provide a Single Sign On service for 3rd party service providers and for internal components, and will also provide its own branded services. (This is a good example of the mobile operator as a Federated Identity Provider).

The main lessons from FT deployments to date are:
- Interoperability is a reality, not just a promise
- There are still some technical and business challenges
- The Single-Sign-On mechanism can be difficult to achieve and may not be the same between Circles of Trust.
- Agreement on authentication levels is not easy to establish
- There are user experience issues around creating the Federation mechanism
- Session Management can be difficult to organize due to different requirements between parties in a Circle of Trust.
- Finalizing agreements between partners takes a lot of time, but it is worth it!

To address some of these issues in a wider context FT is part of a project called 'Fidelity' recently set up with the R&D functions of a number of other telco members of Liberty Alliance – TeliaSonera, Amena, Telenor, Erisson. The aim is to thoroughly trial the Liberty approach in real life situations across multiple countries and companies in Europe. Four ‘Circles of Trust’ are currently being established, with mobile operators as Federated Identity Providers, in Norway, Finland, Spain and France. The trial will help to refine use cases, and will include smart cards, non HTTP services and mobile telephony services. Interoperable tests will be held in mid 2006.


The Editor
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com

More Telco Market Predictions for 2006

(Global Online IMS Attitude Survey. Just 14 days to go till it closes. Please take part if you haven't already. It takes 10 minutes to complete. Full free report to participants only in February. Go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609.)

My colleagues and I very much liked these telco market predictions from Pyramid Research in the USA (www.pyramidresearch.com). Please compare and contrast to our own in the next post.

Pyramid Research Predictions for 2006
www.pyramidresearch.com

1. Carrier margins will decline over the course of the year, most notably on the fixed side
We expect fixed carriers to see reduced EBITDA margins in 2006, largely as a result of the continued decline in their mainstay voice revenues, and the increased influence of alternative carriers offering VoIP, or online VoIP players such as Skype and Yahoo!. While revenues from new services (IPTV, fixed-mobile convergent applications) will continue to expand, we do not expect them to grow fast enough –in 2006- to make up for the sharp decline in voice revenues. Nevertheless, we remain bullish on new services and believe the blip will be temporary; we see 2006 as the down year that precedes a strong rebound in the net contribution of new services to carrier profitability, as IMS applications become popular and telcos become a stronger presence in the video segment.
Contact info@pyr.com for more information

2. The world’s mobile subscriber base will pass the 2.5bn subscriber mark; the interesting fact is how it will get there
The number of global mobile subscriptions hit 2.3bn in 2005; by the end of 2006, we expect that figure to be closer to the 2.6bn-2.7bn range. Beyond where this growth will come from (Asia will add close to 1bn new users, Africa/Middle East will add three times as many subscribers as Western Europe), 2006 will be particularly important for how carriers will drive this expansion. Mobile operators are now looking for wealth at the bottom of the population pyramid; to get there, they’ll have to show tremendous innovation, offer low-cost handsets, and tweak networks and models to remain profitable while generating monthly ARPUs lower than $5. Beyond the Vodafones, Verizons and Oranges, 2006 will be defined by the strategic moves of players such as India’s Bharti, Pakistan’s Mobilink and Paktel, or Nigeria’s Globacom.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

3. The first commercial launches of seamless WLAN – cellular services will take place in the second half of 2006
The launch of the mid-tier dual mode WiFi-Cellular handsets by the largest handset manufacturers, such as Nokia, Motorola, LG and Samsung, will bring UMA and voice over WLAN services to the consumer market. Several high-end handsets are already available commercially, but it is the expansion of the portfolio to about 25 mass market-priced models in mid-2006 that will become a major driver of service adoption. Convergent operators, who currently trial UMA, will launch broadband and UMA service bundles. MVNOs will jump on that bandwagon as well, with players such as the US’s SK – Earthlink combining cellular and WLAN hot spot access, and potentially kicking off a new cycle in the mobile voice price wars.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

4. Operator M&A will continue
The drivers are multiple; healthier balance sheets, market consolidation, the lure of emerging markets, convergence, and the burgeoning financial power of private equity firms. Mergers and acquisitions were unquestionably back in the telecoms markets worldwide in 2005; we expect that 2006 will yield more M&A activity mostly centered around European and Asia Pacific operators. In Europe, we are keeping an eye on Bouygues, Belgacom, Swisscom, Eircom, Fastweb, Cable & Wireless, TDC, Elisa, Telindus and Kingston in 2006, as they look increasingly vulnerable. There are also a number of opportunities in Central and Eastern European mobile markets, where subscriber growth is expected to be strong. In the US, the potential of a merger between Bellsouth and AT&T (formerly SBC) appears intriguing, though there are regulatory concerns.
In Asia Pacific, we’re keeping an eye on operators with regional aspirations like Singtel and Hutchison, those with an interest in growth markets, such as SK Telecom and Telekom Malaysia, and non-Asian operators such as Vodafone and Telenor. The battleground will expand from the two giants of the region, India and China, to the other high-growth emerging markets, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

5. 2006 will be a watershed year for managed services deals in the telecoms industry
Alcatel’s recently opened network operations center (NOC) in Hong Kong, focused on supporting Hutchison Global Communications; this was planned to be operational in September 2005. Ericsson’s new NOC in Singapore, opened January 2005; in October 2005 Ericsson also decided to convert their NOC in Gurgaon, India to a regional NOC. Nokia’s announcement in December 2005 that they would open a global NOC in Chennai, India in early 2006.
These new NOCs will be used to provide network operation, management, integration, and support services to operators through multi-year managed services agreements. It is notable that all of these NOCs are in Asia Pacific, which has been at the forefront of the managed services market for years – think Hutchison Australia, Telecom New Zealand, AAPT, Bharti, and Maxis, among others. We expect to see more deals focused on the rollout, operation, and support of 3G and advanced data services, especially in Asia Pacific.
Which operators will take the step towards managed services? Typically operators that are ‘attackers’ in their markets – eg, the second or third mobile operators – are most open to outsourcing the network operations and management, as their survival depends more heavily on successfully acquiring, retaining, and monetizing their subscriber base.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

6. The multiplication of distribution platforms will continue to challenge the concept of content exclusivity
In the not too distant past, ‘exclusive’ meant that network operators had unique agreements with content providers to deliver content to their subscribers, and theirs alone. Content providers, in return, were grateful to be granted access to subscribers as a new addressable audience for products and promotions. That was then.
Subscribers are quickly coming to realize that there is a plethora of free mobile content available via the Internet. What’s more, much previously ‘exclusive’ content can be reached this way. With network operators no longer controlling the channel, the upper hand has shifted to content providers who are in a position to broker exclusive arrangements to the highest bidder. This ‘exclusive’ arrangement is unlikely to be complete brand loyalty, unless the carrier happens to own the brand. What this is more likely to entail is some selectively ‘exclusive’ deliverables such as unique ringtones, music clips or videos made available by the content provider for a short period of time. ‘Exclusive’ isn’t dead, but its definition has certainly been diluted.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

7. The US mobile market will NOT witness significant change of ownership; T-Mobile and Alltel are here to stay
Unlike 2005, which was highlighted by the consummation of Cingular’s acquisition of AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS’ merger with Nextel, and Alltel’s acquisition of Western Wireless, 2006 will not witness any significant change of ownership stake within the mobile operator community in the US. Although rumors are ripe about Deutsche Telecom offloading its stake in T-Mobile USA and Alltel spinning off its wireline division to appear as an attractive candidate for a wireless buyout, both these operators will continue to exist beyond December 2006. T-Mobile will acquire additional spectrum in the next FCC auction slated for June 2006 to launch UMTS in the US, while Alltel will continue to acquire smaller rural regional players to strengthen its position as the largest non-national operator in the US.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

8. A flurry of enterprise-focused MVNOs (EMVNO) will enter developed mobile markets
While 2005’s MVNO activity was centered on private labels and their MVNO aspirations for various consumer segments, 2006 will see announcements from business-oriented companies looking to become EMVNOs to utilize networks based on W-CDMA/HSDPA and CDMA 1xEV-DO and bring solutions to various segments of the business customer market. The increasing capabilities of the mobile networks in mature mobile markets will be the primary enabler for such companies to mobilize their services and tap into different segments in the business market with innovative data applications and products. Likely candidates include financial institutions and IT firms.
While business customers represent a valuable market segment for network operators, they will be encouraged to work with EMVNOs to maximize their return on network investment and diversify their services to reach untapped business opportunities.
Contact
info@pyr.com for more information

9. The triple bundle of broadband, video and wireless voice will be more successful than traditional triple play and, even, quadruple play
With IPTV on the horizon, both telcos and cable companies are already talking about quadruple play. We are doubtful of the prospects of quadruple play in 2006; the “voice” component of today’s service bundles remains costly and customers are increasingly cutting the cord to switch to wireless services only. Traditional wireline triple play will continue to pick up, but we foresee a more successful triple play bundle to emerge over the course of the year, driven largely by operators incorporating wireless services to their service portfolios. This triple play bundle will include broadband, video and wireless services. The discounted pricing for such a bundle will prove more compelling than the bundle that includes fixed voice or VoIP.

Contact info@pyr.com for more information

10. Fixed WiMAX (802.16d) deployments will not begin before the end of 2006 unlike last year’s expectations of commercial deployment in early 2006
The certified WiMAX equipment was expected to hit the market early in 2006. However, the first round of testing is yet to be completed and another round will take place some time by mid-2006 with more participants. We now anticipate that commercial certified WiMAX equipment will not be available before the end of 2006, which means that we will not see a meaningful adoption of WiMAX services in 2006. There remains a significant level of interest in WiMAX and WiMAX licenses are being awarded across the world. We believe that the delays in the introduction of standardized WiMAX equipment will provide a window of opportunity for pre-WiMAX solutions.

Contact
info@pyr.com for more information


The Editor
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Top 10 Predictions for the Telco Industry in 2006, implications for IMS

(Continued thanks to those participating in our Global IMS Attitude online survey - link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609. I can see the results as they come through - it's getting VERY interesting...We're keeping this open till the end of January. Full report for survey participants only).

IMS Insider's Top 10 Telco Industry Predictions for 2006

I'm indebted to Dr Kenn Walters and team at our sister consulting company, STL (www.stlpartners.com), for their Top 10 telco predictions for 2006. I've added the implications for IMS below each:

1. Content Providers becoming Virtual Network Operators (VNOs) and even Network Operators (NOs)

As demand increases for content to support new Broadband and mobile infotainment services we will see not only more partnering deals between operators and content providers but also a number of content providers investigating the possibility of becoming VNOs or even, through acquisition of small operators, NOs themselves. Disney, for example, is already making noises in this direction - creating a direct channel for their huge content catalogue of movies, TV, games and images and creating their own branded mobile phones. BSkyB in the UK recently bought broadband provider Easynet, which could be the first step in a not too dissimilar plan.

What this means for IMS: The need for faster and simpler Service Delivery Platforms and/or IMS systems to enable this content-driven converged world will be more keenly felt by commercial decision makers within Operators.

2. Emergence of VoIP VNOs and NOs

New VoIP and VoIP-based services in the fixed and mobile market will emerge with more deals like that between Skype and E-Plus in Germany. In particular watch out for partnering deals in local markets between VoIP providers, large IP-based content providers and second/third tier mobile and broadband operators, to offer low cost voice and conferencing services. These will offer flat fee and pay-per-use services and will provide a significant challenge to the traditional telcos, putting pressure on prices and responsiveness.

What this means for IMS: Faster and simpler Service Delivery Platforms and/or IMS systems are needed to enable and manage these cross channel services at extremely low cost.

3. ‘Converged Operators’ get recognized as distinct categories of telco players

There will be even greater pressure on operators to consolidate their markets, increase revenue per user through offering new services, retain customer control through penetrating their usage patterns, and more flexibly attack and defend against local competition. As a result more and more FMC (Fixed Mobile Converged), ‘Triple Play’ (FMC with either TV or internet added) and ‘Quad Play’ (FMC with internet and TV) operators will come into being. The ‘converged operator’ will at last be recognized as a category of player.

What this means for IMS: With Triple and Quad play operators on the increase, an increasing need to bring innovative services to market across all of the different delivery channels seamlessly, faster and simpler Service Delivery Platforms and/or IMS systems are needed to manage and enable this increasingly complex converged world.

4. New revenue streams begin to be discovered by operators offering advanced content


Operators offering IPTV, news services, search engines, video downloads and so on will begin to enjoy some new revenue streams, although the profits will be small. A few will begin to recognize the opportunity of enabling advertising to be linked to this content. This will start to generate new business models and help to reduce the cost of content. As Location Based Services begin to roll out in the mobile world, look for more of this and more pop-up advertising from local retailers.

What this means for IMS: The need for faster and simpler Service Delivery Platforms and/or IMS systems to enable this content-driven converged world will be more keenly felt by commercial decision makers within Operators.

5. 3G and WiFi ‘coopetition’

As 3G roll outs improve in terms of quality (especially for ‘in building coverage’) there will be greater competition with WiFi services. In 2006 expect to see more of the triple play operators partnering with WiFi companies, as well as integrating more of their own WiFi services (where they exist) into their core networks. 3G competing, but also cooperating, with WiFi.

What this means for IMS: As 3G mobile services increasingly work together with WiFi data services, advanced Service Delivery Platforms and/or IMS systems are needed to enable and manage these converged services while ensuring compatibility and seamless interoperability.

6. Vendors - Hardware Battles and Consolidation Continues

- Handset Manufacturers: Expect a shake out of suppliers in advanced handsets, with probably only 5 long term survivors (our guess is Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, plus one other). Expect the trend for low cost, low function, but ‘fashionable’ handsets from unknown Asian suppliers to continue for the consumer market. Expect the larger players to respond fast and hard with a slew of new budget handset ranges.

- Network Equipment: Expect acquisitions of well-established but poorly performing suppliers, possibly from Chinese companies, in 2006. It’s not unfeasible to see approaches to Alcatel, Nortel or even Lucent in the coming 12 months.

- IT Vendors: Expect more vendors to offer customers ever more aggressive pay-per-usage pricing policies (eg. $/CPU/GB/hour). Expect many more offerings of managed services to operators.

What this means for IMS: Expect more and cheaper IMS enabling hardware (and software) to become available from different vendors in both the IT/IP and NEP spaces.

7. A few NEPs make more revenue from services than infrastructure

Continuing the trends set by companies such as Ericsson, expect to see more NEPs (Network Equipment Providers) providing hardware-agnostic services to operators, acting as Consultants, Advisors, Systems Integrators, Hosters, in the same way IBM does in the IT field. Expect to see some of the leading companies already doing this derive more revenues from these services than from selling their own equipment.

What this means for IMS: In 2006, expect the larger NEPs to deliver more pilots and solution roll outs for the leading operators based around OSDP (open Service Delivery Platforms) and IMS.

8. RFID backlash

RFID gets increasingly linked in the public’s mind to ‘Big Brother’-type government spying stories by sensationalist media. This affects willingness to have RFID tags integrated into handsets.

What this means for IMS: Currently no negative effects are expected for Advanced SDPs or IMS due to this potential backlash, BUT, it is important to keep discussions about future IP-based converged services separate from RFID when dealing with Journalists or public forums.

9. Federated Identity comes out of the R&D ‘closet’

At the end of 2006 Federated Identity – “a way for mobile operators to securely and automatically broker customer identity information across a network of online service providers to provide a larger volume of personalised and relevant IP-based services to end-users without them having to undertake multiple log-ins with sign-ons” - becomes a mainstream topic of conversation for senior commercial management at mobile and FMC operators who are considering future growth strategies. Watch out for the results of the ‘Fidelity’ field tests in Europe between France Telecom, Amena, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Ericsson and others. (See this month’s IMS Insider Report,
www.ims-insider.com).

What this means for IMS: Business cases for IMS investment can best be made in conjunction with planning around Federated Identity. Both are about ‘future-proofing’ mobile operators’ business. IMS will help the operator develop their own branded IP services and network capabilities, Federated Identity will enable it the operator be at the centre control point of a new value network. Both will become mature, from a commercial point of view, at around the same time (2007/8).

10. The organization converges

After years of working in silo’s, convergence will hit the organizational structures and processes of enlightened operators. Vodafone recently established a Future Products Unit, run by Global Marketing, to plug the gaps between traditional short-term product development, medium term network enhancements, and the crystal gazing of the R&D and strategy departments. We are seeing other FMC operators setting up new cross-functional central groups to define and prioritize IP-based services for 18-24 months out. Managing the change will not be easy, new skills will be needed, many will resist.

What this means for IMS: This is the critical change needed for IMS to deliver on its promise. It is critical that network engineers who are building IMS-based systems get much closer together with marketing, operations, R&D and IT functions.


Please send your comments to me at:

The Editor - editor@ims-insider.com

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Federated Identity - Helping IMS really deliver on its potential

We've been delighted by the response to our Global IMS Attitude Survey (here's the link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=909631592609, and see previous postings). We have already had respondents from most of the major vendors and telco operators across 3 continents. Roughly 50% are senior technical people, 40% are marketing/commercial and the rest 'other functions' (R&D etc).

We'll be creating a full report in February (for participants only), and presenting a summary on this blog and at the IMS World Forum in Amsterdam. The survey closes at the end of January, so please take part via the link above and have your say!

Interestingly, the biggest issue that the respondents (so far) have identified in the survey is how to identify and create compelling service propositions that take advantage of IMS.

This nicely supports the messages we've been promoting in this blog, and provides excellent context for the next edition of The IMS Insider Monthly Report, which comes out in mid January (subscribe at
www.ims-insider.com).

This month's Report looks in depth at 'Federated Identity' and the opportunities this brings to Operators if tightly coupled with IMS strategy. (For those who are completely new to this, take a look at
www.projectliberty.org.)

In previous editions of the Monthly Report we covered how to prioritise potential IMS-based services (October Report) and drilled down on what operators need to do to deliver a specific service - a bearer/device agnostic M-TV/IPTV/Movie Download hybrid service proposition (November Report).

We looked in detail at how these kinds of services open up (1) new content revenues, (2) stimulate existing core services, (3) stimulate customer acquisition and (4) reduce churn among end users, using STL's 'IP Services Revenue Scorecard' method (
www.stlpartners.com).

However, while driving revenues from end user customers has been the core business model for operators historically, alternative sources of value exist from content providers and advertisers IF the value chain can work together more efficiently and effectively to deliver targeted content and advertising in attractively bundled service propositions to end users.

Advertisers will pay more for advertising through telco channels and content providers will provide content cheaper to operators IF consumers are targeted better with advertising and content AND this can be tracked.

So, the question is how can this future utopia be realised? How must advertisers, content providers, operators (and retailers) work together to share customer and transaction information so that more value can be delivered to consumers WITHOUT infringing data protection rights or being intrusive?

The theoretical answer is 'Federated Identity' - a standards-based approach, led by The Liberty Alliance (
www.projectliberty.org), to sharing idenitity information securely across multiple service provider ecosystems.

In this month's IMS Insider Report we explain the theory of Federated ID and we describe the current state of development (what the major mobile operators are doing in this field and what they need to do next). We clarify the tangible benefits to (1) Advertisers (2) Content Providers (3) Operators (4) Customers (5) Retailers. We present a case study of what really needs to happen across the value chain to make this a reality. And, most crucially, we describe how Operators can win in this new world, particularly how to integrate tightly with IMS and future services strategy and other technology developments.

My colleagues at STL (
www.stlpartners.com) will be providing the brainpower on this one, as it hurts my head just thinking about it!

Regards,

The Editor, IMS Insider
editor@ims-insider.com
www.ims-insider.com


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