|Issue:||Latin America 2005|
|Topic:||True convergence, building digital communications|
|Organisation:||Lucent Technologies, Brazil|
Wagner Gonçalves Ferreira is the President of Lucent Technologies in Brazil. Ferreira joined Lucent Technologies in Brazil as Mobile Solutions Sales Manager. Later, as Director, he was responsible for some of the largest Lucent accounts in Brazil. Mr Ferreira started his career at Cobrasma, as Telecommunication Network Project Supervisor. From there, he joined the AT&T Network System Group, as a Project Coordinator. He also worked for Machline Tecnologia de Telecomunicações (MTT), as a Project and Engineering System Manager for SID Telecom and Controls. Wagner Ferreira graduated in Electrical Engineering from the Escola de Engenharia Mauá de São Paulo, in Brazil. He earned his MBA from Fundação Getúlio Vargas.
Full convergence of access, networks, content, equipment, features, applications – you name it – has long been a goal of revenue hungry, competition driven service providers and a dream for the consumer. Multifunction equipment hardware convergence and the convergence of services made possible by IP Multimedia Subsystems architecture will, finally, after years of hype, make it possible to fully personalise communications and provide a blended experience fully in tune with the user’s lifestyle, at home, at work and at play.
There have been many discussions recently about convergence and the infrastructure required for the integration of diverse terminals, wireline and mobile telephones, PCs and PDAs. Currently, however, most of discussions of convergence are abstract. They do not touch the substance of how to provide real benefits to the end-user of digital communication services. For several years, convergence provided a broad vision for future development, but fell short in terms of market deliveries. Today, convergence is beginning to offer real benefits to the market and the end-user. Each user of telecommunication services has his own definition of convergence, a definition that depends on the customers’ legacy platform and their exclusive competitive overview, which has an impact on the diversity and complexity of options not managed by them. How to choose a service provider? How to find the right services and solutions? And, perhaps most important of all: what benefits can these various solutions bring us? In the next ten years, communication technologies will anticipate, and be able to answer, all our needs, simplifying the end-user experience while offering advanced services to drive consumer demand. A new generation of communication technologies will enable simple, secure, seamless and personalised services, with mobility and privacy. This reality brings companies a need to anticipate market demands, while respecting the user’s individuality. Considering, also, that each consumer will interact with this new market reality in a personal way, convergence will not have just one exclusive definition. True convergence, then, will have to be defined from an end-user perspective. To be truly effective, convergence will need to interpret the real needs of the subscribers, positioning itself as a user in order to offer simple, secure, personalised and mobile solutions. The key to understand the end-user perspective is that it is based upon different blended lifestyles. As our purchasing behaviour becomes increasingly personalised, communication service profiles will also have to change. End-users choose service packages oriented to specific target groups, but personalise them by adding the services that they want from multiple service providers. There are new solutions to meet this customised demand such as ‘Live Wire’, which makes it possible to select any sort of content, such as songs, news, short videos, TV or books-on-demand through mobile terminals, IPTV (digital TV), and ‘Active PhoneBook’ – a personal directory that unifies telephone numbers, email addresses, Instant Messaging lists, Internet and video contacts. Everything is accessible to the user seamlessly across mobile or wireline networks. In addition, there are intelligent tools that let subscribers monitor their home security systems through mobile terminals, and to receive real-time data updates via live videos. Solutions such as the ‘Activity Agent’ give users the ability to organise their day-by-day activities based on information available about highway and traffic conditions, market opening hours and special promotions from their favourite stores. All of this will meet the growing demand for high-speed and integrated services. People wish to access communication services 24 hours a day, at home, at work or in their cars. They want to be able to take pictures and send them to their friends through email as instant postcard images. They wish to download their favourite songs and videos, but they want protection from spam and hackers. Despite the proliferation of access terminals, services and networks to support their traffic, users expect simple, secure, seamless, personalised and portable communication services that are manageable and do not disturb their lives. Technology must make life easy, not complicated. What are the real benefits of implementing an infrastructure able to connect any application server to any terminal, anywhere and to supply highly personalised resources? From the end user’s point of view, it is the ability to access a high-level user communication experience at any time, from any place. Considering that, these services should add value to meet the particular needs arising from different lifestyles. They should offer real value, making it possible and easy to realize day-to-day activities. These services should bring convenience, efficiency and new capabilities to the user’s communications package and be easily and quickly integrated into the subscriber’s daily life. The services in such a scenario can bring additional voice and data traffic to the service provider’s networks, as well as additional opportunities to generate revenue and assure user fidelity. We call these blended lifestyle services. To meet subscriber expectations, these services should be very easy to understand and to use, and be accessible anywhere, in a manner that meets the subscriber’s needs. If the current operator cannot offer these conditions of use, users will jump (churn) to another service provider that can meet these needs. Companies need to find ways to continuously improve their customer support, differentiate their service offerings from their competitors’, build positive reputation in the marketplace and develop client’s brand loyalty. Just as customers need product support, they also want the operators to answer their needs and fast solutions for their requirements. Based on that, the convergence vision should contemplate complexity reduction. Service providers are expected to offer advanced services in order to keep and to attract both the most sophisticated of the new generation of customers, as well as those who are looking for a simple, secure, personalised and portable communications experience. To these end-users, this means not only Voice over IP (VoIP), and low costs, but also the realization of true IP value. A concentration on value gives operators the ability to develop personalised communications experiences aligned with several ‘blended lifestyles’, bringing the functionality of the network directly to the customer. In the past, communications brought people to the network. Today, it tailors the network to them. From the operator’s point of view, a true value proposition means the ability to attract and to preserve high-value customers through the fast and easy introduction of new services in the market. From the subscriber’s side, value can be translated as the arrival of ‘blended lifestyle services’ through an individual approach. The relationship between end-users and service providers is based on trusting that these advanced and personalised services will always be readily available. One vision of IP-based value is centred upon equipment, software and services integrated in three network levels: the transport level for end-user access; the services control level for differentiating features; and the applications level for fast introduction of new advanced, revenue generating services. This extended solutions package, products, software and services, together with marketing, can help the operators offer true convergence by building digital communications networks that provide personalised ‘blended lifestyles’ to the end-user. Operators interested in creating IP based value need to consider the new open-standard architecture capable of enabling advanced services: IMS/IP Multimedia Subsystems. With IMS architecture, it is possible to create an independent, access agnostic, always-on network. IMS lets operators offer real value to their customers, facilitating the introduction of advanced, high-speed services. Actually, this is only the first step to deliver voice, data and video convergent services. The development of convergent services will truly reach its target through customised services that allow every customer to adapt communications to their specific needs. We have been hearing about convergence for some time, but only now is there a true way to show its real benefits to end-users.