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    Next gen messaging – Messaging models


    In a converged messaging environment, business models will have to reflect the capabilities new services offer users and operators, says Max Wilkie.

    Being able to use subscriber data, preferences and settings to control a user’s interaction with the mobile network is an important prospect for operators as technologies progress towards an all-IP scenario.

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    Subscribers will need to be able to select their preferred format for each required service, as more new services are deployed. This is especially important within the messaging environment, with not only SMS, but also MMS or video clips being in demand as more and more subscribers select how, what and when they receive messages providing services such as news, finance and sport, as well as a multitude of other content from outside the network.

    Next-generation SMS
    Although SMS remains by far the most widely used messaging technology in the mobile communications environment, as the move towards a converged, predominantly IMS messaging (IM)-based world continues, seamless interoperability between messaging modes is essential to ensure the future growth of messaging services.
    This is the area of technology advance, and is one of the two key areas that should be considered in relation to next-generation SMS. It covers the move to IMS/IP-based networks together with the associated interworking between 2G, 30G, IMS, and other technolgies. It also addresses interworking and possibilities related to new technologies that arise in the next-generation, all-IP networks, such as IM or PoC, as well as possibilities presented through SMS personalisation based on location.
    For operators, the benefits of converged messaging include greater revenues from the ability to provide services that users can personalise; giving network access to off-net services, whilst retaining the user’s billing relationship, will give operators access to new revenue streams. In addition, being able to offer simple messaging services, as well as more complicated streaming or multiple-session services over the IP network, will be of benefit through equipment optimisation and operational cost savings.
    The second area to consider in the advance of next-generation SMS is that of subscriber evolution. Here, the overall trend is that subscriber technology literacy increases the more people become familiar with new technology in general. Whether this is as a result of using a home PC, Internet surfing, or digital TV, such day-to-day use makes people less hesitant in embracing other new technologies. The result is that a more literate subscriber base will find new uses for SMS. Again, in a world where personalisation possibilities exist, subscribers may use SMS more and more as a means to communicate with the network, for instance, to enable/disable settings.

    This user evolution can be seen in the area of social networking sites, where SMS is used as a mini-blogging device. Here a number of new micro-blogging sites, or ‘twittering’ sites see users sending a message to the service about what they are doing, or information they wish to disseminate, and the message is broadcast to all the people subscribed to the user’s feed. The most popular services are Twitter and Jaiku.

    The new messaging landscape is also moving increasingly towards a real-time environment in which messages can be intercepted and analysed as part of the delivery process. Once an operator can do this, then such things as filtering, editing, blocking, copying, auto-replying, are all possible. This leads to a range of further opportunities such as: Parential Control, Auto Out of Office-type responses, Forwarding, Spam/Filtering, Legal Intercept, Sponsorship, and Message Tagging.

    Real Applications
    There is a growing demand, particularly in developing countries, for micro-credit transactions, or for repatriating funds to the home country of expatriate workers, and for transferring credit between customers. For example, a user can text the following command to the code 9999: Transfer 347xxxxxxxx Amount (e.g. Transfer 034761234567 2000 to transfer N2000 to 08061234567). Once this command is sent, the operator will send a text message back to confirm the user’s request, and the customer then confirms by texting back YES to 9999.

    There have also been a variety of innovations in the growth in machine-to-machine technologies that will continue to make use of and drive revenues from SMS. Remote monitoring and telemetry via GSM/wireless is one. Here, SMS is used typically as a transport bearer for delivering control instructions or measurement between a central computer and remote stations, or for the replacement of existing manual activities like setting alarms, or electricity meter readings with a remote wireless alternative. Vending machines, gas and electricity meter readings fall into this area.
    In the general maritime and logistics industries, the technology now exists for ISO containers to be monitored while at sea, using SMS as the means for both regular status reports as well as alarm messages. If, for instance, a container, equipped with a GSM/wireless/RFID tag or sensor, loses refrigeration during a storm, or a seal is violated illegally by thieves, or if, for instance, sensors detect any form of radiation due to terrorism, an SMS alarm can be sent via an onboard wireless network, across a satellite bearer to a ground-earth station. Once into the land-based network the message will be picked up by a control and operations centre for appropriate action.

    Advertising and messaging
    Mobile Marketing, using wireless media as an integrated content delivery and direct response vehicle is another application growing is use and sophistication. This area includes text messaging (SMS), video messages (MMS), WAP downloads and banner ads on mobile websites, and defines the emergence of wireless as a mobile marketing tool.
    Within this sphere, a Sponsored Messaging Model exists, whereby a sponsor can support part or all of the subscriber costs for receiving a service. This has the potential, from an operator’s viewpoint, of increasing usage and removing barriers to service adoption. One of the reasons behind slow MMS take-up, for example, has been its high cost to the subscriber. If, however, these costs were covered fully, or in part, by a sponsor or sponsors, with a sponsor’s advert being part of the package, then the model would offer an obvious path to uptake for unfettered MMS usage.

    This would put the subscriber in control and would reduce subscriber costs of sending SMS and MMS messages and WAP downloads. Sponsored message advertising enables the user to opt-in to sponsored advertising campaigns and allows advertisers to append targeted adverts to messages based on ‘key words’ within the message text, the time of day, or the location from which the message has originated.
    However, two factors are critical for the success of sponsored message-advertising. In the first instance, the message sender must be able to decide if the message is sponsored or not. This opt-in will ensure that important messages are not prevented or delayed in going directly to the intended recipient. Secondly, an advertisement should be of benefit to the subscriber. Strong incentive to use the service would be generated if, by opting in the subscriber is allowed to send certain messages for free, or at a reduced tariff.

    Looking forward
    Text, multimedia, voice, video and instant messaging, have become the traditional, though disparate, elements of today’s wider IT and telecommunications mix. The growing converged messaging environment, on the other hand, includes the interaction between next-generation, all-IP messaging technologies and these disparate ‘legacy’ technologies and services, and as convergence takes a firm hold will move towards a scenario where all messaging technologies interoperate seamlessly. In such a messaging environment, it will be those messaging applications that support multiple network technologies, which will provide the greatest return on investment for operators.

    About the author
    Max Wilkie is CEO, Jinny Software.  Jinny’s Filtering Engine blocks spam and assists subscribers in personalising their messaging and  content, as well as allowing operators to convert off-network traffic into revenue streams.