Messaging Services-Challenges and Opportunities

Release Date:2009-05-18  Author:Khawar Javed  Click:

Messaging—A Promising Sector
Gartner, Inc. recommends that mobile operators plan for a future where messaging services are fully commoditized and margins greatly reduced.

According to a survey conducted by Yankee Group in 2007 (2007 Teens and Technology Survey), messaging services are still the choice of over 50% teenagers in the world predominated by text messaging (see Figure 1).

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Due to the huge profit margins and promising growth, messaging services have acquired the top position in operators' agenda leading towards a market with cut-throat competition, thus forcing the operators to reduce their margins. To compete in the market, operators are now looking for highly reliable solutions that offer higher capacity, lower TCO, and innovative services.

Challenges Faced by Operators—An Insight
"In many markets, there has been strong pressure on operator margins for text messaging services and this has been driven by often intense competition between carriers," said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director for Gartner Inc.

The cut-throat competition in the market has greatly slashed down the operators' margins. To overcome this cutting margin, operators are investing in new services that offer attractive features to subscribers. Due to their appealing contents, these services attract more and more subscribers, causing a bottleneck in the lower capacity systems. The capacity of the messaging network might not be an issue at the moment, but keeping in view the unprecedented growth in messaging services due to new services, as has been predicted by the international consulting agencies like Gartner Inc., and Frost & Sullivan, operators will have to join their heads in the very near future.

Frost & Sullivan expects global SMS traffic to double between 2007 and 2010 with messaging volumes touching 2.5 trillion driven by broad-based, robust international growth particularly in emerging markets.

When there is an exponential growth in the demand for messaging services, the operators providing unique services will win the major share of the market. Needless to say, the unique services will overcome the revenue shortage aroused due to the shrinking margins over traditional messaging services.

The popularity of these services attracts new subscribers, which results in network congestion. To avoid this network congestion, operators will have to upgrade their existing networks to more open carrier-grade networks to facilitate the smooth upgrade for the provision of higher capacity, and highly reliable services.

In a nutshell, operators need to be ready for the long awaited exponential growth in the messaging sector. They need to build a messaging network that caters to the requirements of future growth, and provides new services with rich features. They need a highly reliable carrier-grade solution with tremendous capacity, which can be smoothly expanded and evolved, and is compliant with international standards, thus easily integrating with the entities of other vendors-a solution that reduces CAPEX and OPEX to a great extent.

Carrier-Grade Solution—The Only Option
ZTE offers carrier-grade products to its valued customers. A carrier-grade product is characterized by its large capacity, smooth expandability, open architecture, and high reliability. All these factors sum up and result in lower expanse and higher revenue (see Figure 2).

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Attractive services

To solve the problem of shrinking margins over traditional services, ZTE has come up with some attractive solutions for the operators. ZTE has developed an Advanced Service Platform (ASP) which bundles SMS based VAS solutions like SM Personal Signature, SM Forwarding, SM Copy, SM Auto-Reply, SM Firewall, and SM Storage. Likewise, to boost the network utilization of SMS, and MMS, ZTE has come up with Mobile Newspaper, MMS Personal Album, MMS Content Adaptor, and MMS Marketing Platform.

Mobile Newspaper is a service that provides information contents over the existing SMS, MMS, and WAP networks. With a very minimal investment operators can not only boost their network utilization but also have a new way of generating additional revenue without having a major change in their existing network. With the Mobile Newspaper alone, China Mobile increased the number of its MMS messages per month 3 times, from 0.714 billion MMS/month in January 2006 to 2.223 billion MMS/month in September 2007.


Higher capacity

With the unprecedented growth of the messaging services, and with the new services dependent on existing messaging services, many operators around the globe are facing network congestion. First Delivery Attempt (FDA), one of the remarkable solutions put forward by ZTE, works on the principle of receive and forward, thus reducing the storage requirement and enhancing the message delivery speed. This solution is simply an add-on to the existing messaging network. It provides high capacity, reduces the storage and bandwidth requirements of the SMSC. It provides a faster way of efficiently delivering the messages, without any major investment.

The messaging services designed by ZTE offer higher capacity. The SMSC provided to China Mobile (Shanghai) offers a capacity of 28,800SM/s. Similarly, the MMSC provided to China Mobile (Nanjing) offers a capacity of 2,580MM/s, and likewise, Vivo Brazil is serving its 30 million subscribers with ZTE's next generation VMS service.


Higher reliability

ZTE offers highly reliable products, based on modern technologies. The network is designed in dual-plane-dual-network mode that ensures service availability in case of single point of failure. Equipment is deployed in n+1 or 1+1 hot/standby mode that provides traffic balancing and redundancy. Such a carrier-grade solution features excellent reliability.


Modular design

ZTE adopts modular design in its products. The modular design facilitates the smooth expansion of the services by a simple upgrade of hardware/software, with minimal effect on the running services. This in turn reduces the Time to Market (TTM), and brings additional revenue to the operators at the cost of minimal investment.


Unified access and management

Ability of unified access and unified management is another key feature of ZTE's messaging services. With unified access, subscribers can enjoy ZTE's messaging services, with any kind of terminal. With the unified management, operators need not to have an independent management platform for each of the messaging services offered; instead operators now can use one platform to manage all the messaging services, which in turn helps to reduce total cost.

Moreover, ZTE's messaging services are designed to serve GSM/CDMA/3G networks simultaneously, making them the ideal choice for multi-network operators or the operators planning for 3G evolution.


Open platform

ZTE's messaging services are designed on open platform. An open platform is characterized with its compatibility to OSA, and other relevant international standards, and it provides open interfaces that enable 3rd party CPs/SPs to design and develop new services easily. These products thus easily integrate with any kind of network entities as long as they are providing open interfaces.


Innovation

With ZTE, innovation never stops; V3 is one of the examples of ZTE's dedication. V3 is an upgraded version of IWGMSC. Unlike IWGMSC, V3 offers higher capacity and higher reliability; 1+1 hot/standby mode is adopted in its architecture to provide redundancy. The capacity offered by V3 is three times as that of the traditional IWGMSC and occupies one-third of the space. With V3, messaging services not only support the traditional interfaces but also more advanced SIGTRAN and other IP based protocols, thus laying down the foundation for all-IP network.


Conclusion

Clearly, ZTE provides high capacity, yet reliable messaging services with open and modular design that paves the way to smooth expansion, thus slashing down the TCO effectively and bringing up the revenue.


ZTE—A choice of market leaders

China Mobile-the largest mobile phone carrier in the world that provides GSM/GPRS/Edge/3G (TD-SCDMA) network services for its valued consumers. By the end of 2008, ZTE has deployed 40 sets of SMSCs in China Mobile, providing a capacity of over 126K SM/s. Similarly, a total capacity of over 9.1K MM/s is being provided through 26 sets of MMSCs.

Due to open architecture and modular design, many of the SMSCs and MMSCs have been upgraded in the past to cope with the increasing demands. Apart from the basic MMS service, many new services such as ASP, Mobile Newspaper, and Mobile blog have been added to the existing systems over a period of time.

P.T. Telekomunikasi Selular ("Telkomsel")-the largest mobile phone carrier in Indonesia that was facing network congestion due to high SMS traffic. Especially during the festive holidays the SMS traffic used to surge suddenly. This sudden surge in the SMS traffic exceeding the system capacity increased the risk of network congestion and reduced revenue due to the subscribers' inability to send SMS. To address this, Telkomsel deployed ZTE's SMSC with a capacity of 11,000SM/s. ZTE's SMSC not only boosted the capacity of the Telkomsel, but also provided a set of new service features including FDA and SIGTRAN interface.

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