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Overcoming the Challenges in Deploying Rich Communications Services

Bianca Löwemann, Proposition Manager Voice & Messaging - Rich Communication Service at Deutsche Telekom, answers questions on some on some of the new services, such as chatbots, that we are seeing carriers provide and on Deutsche Telekom's launch of VoLTE and VoWiFi.

Bianca Löwemann, Proposition Manager Voice & Messaging, Rich Communication Service, Deutsche Telekom

What are the key challenges in deploying rich communications services?

One of the biggest future strengths for Rich Communications Services (RCS) also proved to be one of its biggest challenges: A standard-based, federated communication system like RCS can only leverage its strengths, such as global reach, if it is present everywhere - like SMS.

Today’s voice and messaging services are inherently complex, with a long history of feature development and local deviations across the globe.

To fulfil the operator’s promise of providing ubiquitous connectivity on a global scale, the focus is on interconnection between all major operators – and, in a later phase, to include even smaller operators. This means every MNO needs to deploy RCS and to interconnect their RCS back-end with all other RCS MNOs.

Emerging new cloud offerings by several global vendors helped lower the price tag and with that the hurdle to RCS a few months ago. A very positive trend. Talking to operators e.g. from China or Japan at the MWC Shanghai lately has confirmed a global RCS commitment.

The latest dynamics around hub-setups especially helped pave the way towards the second, most challenging step: global interconnect. Speedy interconnect is definitely the biggest challenge.

This is only the technical challenge, which is well addressed now. There is however a commercial challenge that needs to be passed as well: the transformation process from a world where service and transport is bound to each other into a world that has decoupled the two, given how Facebook Messenger and WeChat disrupted our traditional revenue model around selling and reselling Messages in the B2C area.

What opportunities can chatbots bring for operators?

This is an area that introduces new, amazing opportunities to us as carriers. When facing the fundamental transformation (as explained before) in your business, you are basically served with two options: hold on to your existing business pattern and evolve it - or create a new one.

SMS A2P is still seriously big and actually still on the rise. This means you want to maintain your business pattern and update the feature scope via RCS. We already prepared RCS Messaging for the feature scope of chatbot-functionality with the Universal Profile 2.0.

This is a concept that has had a huge uptake in the digital landscape as it gives carriers the opportunity to create an even more effective and authentic customer experience by enriching conversations with customers through automated interactions, optimized by AI (Artificial Intelligence) and simplified via preconfigured replies.

What have you learned so far from Deutsche Telekom’s launch of VoLTE services?

VoLTE is the state of the art voice production purely based on IP technology.

For Deutsche Telekom Group it makes perfectly sense to bundle knowledge across the countries and not re-invent the roll-out every time. We learned from early projects in Germany and Czech Republic and multiplied this via the central Pan-Net platform approach, based on harmonised requirements by keeping local flavour in the voice product portfolios.

VoLTE is now getting mature enough to be mass marked and future quality competition will include more and more of the HD audio capabilities of VoLTE - and VoWiFi, which is a nice side feature of the VoLTE platform and available in most of our countries today.

The implementation has taken its time, and the good working relationship between operators, network vendors and terminal OEMs was key to deliver.

Learn more about VoLTE, chatbots and RCS at LTE Voice, taking place in Amsterdam this October.

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