The US at the front and center of telecoms innovation
The international communications market is a fascinating and constantly evolving industry filled with innovation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the USA, where Silicon Valley’s finest are competing to provide mainstream and new app-based services traditionally offered by the likes of Verizon and AT&T. Simultaneously, traditional wireless providers are looking to provide value added services and complete the move to enhanced IP-based services, and a plethora of new MVNOs are entering the market based on popular retail brands and price-led propositions.
It is a market where only the strongest will survive, and each segment of communication players must address their own unique challenges to ensure they win or retain the market share to meet their business objectives.
Dominated by two market needs which can be categorized into MNOs (mobile network operators) and digital service providers, the US proves to be an exciting testing ground for new providers with unique business models. Around 90% of app-based communications providers operate out of Silicon Valley and are now engaging with mainstream telecoms infrastructure companies to expand both their physical footprints and their technical capabilities.
MNOs have had to upgrade their networks due to technological advancements, LTE growth and the role of big data. They now offer their subscribers enhanced services such as high speed data and high definition voice (VoLTE), which set an example to the rest of the world on how to keep customer engagement intact with the new service offerings.
Digital service providers on the other hand are cashing in on the growth of end-user reliance on smartphone devices for online activities. These often require identity validation and authentication via SMS or voice communication channels to avoid internet frauds over app downloads, mobile transactions, and so on. This is especially evident with those who are looking at new business models such as sponsored data – where users are offered free data to be used on a specific service – and those providing services in countries where regulation requires access to identity management services.
Telecoms industry analyst house Analysys Mason predicts that by 2020 the identity management services market will be worth $9.4 billion. This will in part be driven by requirements from Valley app companies to verify the identity of those using their services both in heavily regulated markets and more widely for their own business objectives. Many of these Internet companies will need to engage with traditional wireless infrastructure providers to enable these and other services to improve their customer journey.
International carrier services providers, such as BICS, have been engaging with these companies for some time: providing international capabilities, and enabling services which require more robust infrastructure than they already have access to.
Moving communications into the next generation
The rapid growth of these Valley players would never have been possible without the significant investments made by carriers around the world in making the ‘internet everywhere’ dream a reality. Not only is domestic 3G and LTE available throughout the States, but now customers of all of the major US networks can enjoy high speed data roaming while visiting more than 125 countries around the world, including all of the world’s major holiday destinations.
This footprint has grown simultaneously with strong smartphone penetration seen across the world since the iPhone launch in 2007. Following the development and roll-out of truly international LTE, the next major step is the widespread deployment of higher-definition voice services. In the US, this has taken the shape of VoLTE, which is currently being rolled out by carriers across the country.
VoLTE (Voice over LTE) offers the same leap in quality from standard voice as data services received when LTE replaced 3G, and promises to offer the same boost in usage carriers saw during this transition. In regions where app companies are gaining traction with IP voice services it is vital that carriers accelerate this roll-out and truly make the most of their significant investment in next generation voice.
VoLTE stands out as the highest quality HD voice service, offering low-frequency LTE spectrum usage, which enables network efficiency and reduced operational expenditure for mobile carriers. As usage increases in line with the availability of supporting devices and wider network availability, VoLTE will be made available for roamers and those making international calls. This promises to provide increased revenue for traditional carriers as they look to boost usage of voice and maximize the economic advantages from their technological investment.
To achieve this ubiquitous international service, however, requires significant research and interoperability testing. This is currently being undertaken by BICS in association with carriers around the world.
Following multiple, wide-ranging trials, the use case for international VoLTE interworking has been successfully proven between Europe and Asia and means not only will users across launch markets have access to high quality voice service over an LTE network, but general mobility will increase too, enabling services to be used on any device, over any access network, be it 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. This technology is now being perfected for the US and other markets and will be available in due course.
VoLTE is only the start of the technological innovation that will drive the industry forward during the coming years with the scene now set for wider RCS (rich communication services) launch including group chat, video calling, instant messaging and file transfer services. RCS is a carrier-led initiative offering rich and simpler communication services which are interoperable with all other operators both domestically and internationally, providing the same level of ubiquity as voice and SMS.
This technology has also been embraced by Valley players such as Google with its purchase of Jibe at the end of September 2015. The acquisition further indicates how OTTs are interested in integrating telecom carrier-led next generation communication services.
Both VoLTE and RCS will bring the next stage of all-IP era communications to the commercial marketplace; offering ubiquitous, high definition services with a robust fall-back onto legacy technology as and when required.
In the US market, next generation services are revolutionizing communications services for operators, Valley app companies and end-users alike. The increasing demand has been driving service providers to ensure they have implemented local presences to target their current customers and potential new business and boost their income revenues where possible.
If these technological developments are fully embraced, and supported by carriers providing reliable backbone infrastructure, operators are able to bring the next level of communications to the market place and provide a new level of customer experience to subscribers, increasing usage and profitability.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”