Fixed Mobile Convergence and Network 2020 – The Next Steps in Telecommunications?
As technologies adapt, so must their providers and users.
For a number of years communications options have been somewhat fragmented, with options for web-based video calls, mobile calls and traditional wired landline calls co-existing. While this provides choice and is important to avoid the complete absence of the ability to communicate if one system fails, there is a move amongst mobile providers to unite forms of communication on mobile phones and tablets to increase efficiency and reliability.
Encouraged by the GSMA, the concept of all IP mobile communications is addressed in their Network 2020 initiative. Started in 2010 with the ambition of encouraging and assisting mobile providers to adapt to a world increasingly reliant upon improving internet provision, Network 2020 marks a major change in telecommunications.
Underpinning Network 2020 is the fact that mobile providers need to change in order to remain competitive – consumers require reliability, and many of the legacy systems used by providers are outdated and require improvement. As time progresses, internet-based systems will allow what is referred to as a ‘mesh’ based system. This will provide the best in reliability as connections can be re-routed quickly and efficiently around any problematic network areas, increasing communication speed and quality. As bandwidth provision increases to meet demand, the quality of video conferencing will also improve, making such options more popular with organisations of all sizes.
Traditionally, internet communication has centred on Voice over IP (VoIP) and Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) methods but, as connectivity improves with the introduction of faster broadband in the form of 4G (and because mobile communications such as SMS and voice calls need to remain a source of revenue for providers) attention is now focused on options including Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE).
This will allow calls to occur via any of the given options – and provide the capability to switch between these options depending on availability and cost, enabling seamless, cost-effective services. Called Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC), the technology is to some extent in use already, although its definition appears to vary between providers and the infrastructure and handset technology modifications required to allow it to function most effectively will take time and investment. The ability to provide users with the service they need, when they need it, is the holy grail of telecommunications and it appears that – if providers work together (and that’s a large “if”) – this will become a distinct possibility.
As with any method of mobile communication, the move to FMC with IP, LTE and WiFi services will have implications for Telecom Expense Management (TEM) – in particular, for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) plans. It can be a challenge to track business voice and video calls in order to ensure employee obligations are being met and the amounts paid for phone services are accurate, especially for organisations operating on an international level. As with any area of business, it’s important the best value for money service is sought in telecommunications expenses – another reason why TEM can prove invaluable.
As it stands, integrating the new communications infrastructure as outlined in Network 2020 could fully enable FMC and prove to be a great boon to business, with reliable, high quality communications available on the move. Although it may seem as though telecoms are increasingly costly, it is likely that improvements to services will see a significant increase in value for money, as users get more from their spend.
Thanks to Anne Britton for the post !