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Mobile Operators are moving towards unified OTT messaging apps

- 5 MIN READ - 24 Mar 2015

After Apple introduced a modern smartphone to the world in 2007, having internet connection and a camera on your phone has become a standard on smartphones. This is where the downfall of SMS messaging started.

In developed markets P2P SMS traffic has been declining due to OTT messaging. Some operators are already blocking WhatsApp and Viber traffic on 3G/LTE to win back the market, but this it is a fight they have already lost.

The loss of revenue from SMS has forced operators to take action. This is already clearly visible by various filters and firewalls being actively added to protect against unsociliated A2P traffic.


Why is OTT messaging such a big threat all of a sudden?

1. It is free

You pay for internet anyway, so why pay extra for the SMS? As simple as that.

2. It has more features compared to SMS

One SMS is limited to 160 characters and MMS image quality is moderate at best. Modern OTT messaging apps do not have any text length limitations, they support sharing high-quality images and you get a live feedback if they have read the message.


What are the downsides of OTT messaging apps?

1. Quality

Current OTT messaging apps rely on the internet on your phone and it can be wonky. Also you rely on your messaging application framework (servers, internet connection) as well.

2. Fragmentation

None of the OTT apps are compatible and you may need to have many of those running at the same time. This is not very convenient and also chews a big chunk of your already-so-small phone battery.

3. Security

Do you trust that WhatsApp keeps your data safe? Is it really unbreakable and your semi-naked selfies are secure from your fans?


5G network planned for 2020

2G networks main focus was to cover as much area as possible. 3G/LTE networks focused on higher network throughput.

5G network however focuses heavily on lowering power consumption while also increasing throughput and offering lower latencies. Operators have understood that the all-IP based infrastructure and services is the way to go.


The Green Button Promise

The “Green Button Promise” means customers get reach, reliability and richness. Reach through interconnection to mobile phones and devices globally; quality and reliable services delivered within a trusted ecosystem with privacy and security, and richness from the wide range of IP-based operator services. [source]

The IP-based services that mobile operators promise to provide in 2020:


Rich Communication Services (RCS)

RCS is the most interesting part of the 5G network as this is the biggest feature everyone is currently missing from the mobile operators and phone manufacturers that lead to OTT messaging in the first place.

RCS allows you to send text messages, voice, video – take it as an iMessage platform created and supported by all operators and phones.

It just works

RCS it is based on your phone number like SMS and phone calls – no need to sign up or any complicated verification process is required. You can start chatting with your friends right away.

With RCS supported phone you already have a preloaded application called joyn. Vodafone has also released a short video that promotes it:

You are also not limited to this one built-in application – at any point you can download another RCS-compatible app and have a totally new interface that you prefer.

P.S. You only pay for data and if the other recipient does not have RCS capable phone, it has a fallback to SMS as well.

The future is already here

41 operators have already launched RCS compatible ecosystem and 87 operators have commited to launch by the end of 2015. Also 8 device manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, HUAWEI and LG have already joyn accredited devices on the market with BlackBerry and ZET to follow soon.

For the list of operators already supporting Rich Communication, check out the Network 2020 Ecosystem map by GSMA Intelligence.

Will it kill SMS?

The SMS is here to stay, but the volumes will decrease significantly in the P2P sector. It will probably hang around still for quite some time as the mobile operators have to support older devices.

Jaanus Rõõmus

Jaanus Rõõmus - CTO

Jaanus is co-founder and CTO of Messente and makes sure its wheels keep spinning and Messente always has a full tank of fuel.

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