The issue of 3G licenses in January 2009 unveils the 3G era of China. To cater to the 3G era, an era of the Internet, the leading telecom operators in China have transformed their business models: China Mobile is committed to becoming "an expert in mobile information"; China Telecom is striving to grow into an integrated information service provider. Moreover, the telecom operators are turning to the provision of all services. As telecom operators are platform operators, it is vital for them to offer engine-based services.
Wireless Transfer of Traditional Email Messages
In the traditional Internet-based email service, a large amount of information needs to be transferred, but the response speed must rely on the Web connection of bulky computers. The emerging mobile phone-based SMS service, however, has a very high response speed, but it cannot carry mass information or support quick editing of email messages. Can we integrate the advantages of Web network and mobile communication network?
As an Internet service engine, mailbox draws much attention from telecom operators. China Unicom launched its Ruyi Mailbox; China Mobile expanded the capacity of its 139 Mailbox to 2GB; China Telecom launched its 189 Mailbox immediately after being awarded the 3G license. By binding individual mobile phone and the mailbox in the form of "mobile phone number@domain name", users can easily interconnect the two networks. With abundant functions, the mailbox allows users to transfer information easily, thereby making them more loyal to telecom operators and reducing customer churn rate.
Currently all the mailbox operators provide the function of SM-based notification of email messages. However, only the senders and titles of the messages are notified because of the limited capacity of SM. In this case, users fail to view all the content in their email messages, so their experience is significantly affected.
Pushmail is an ideal service allowing users to send and receive email messages quickly, but it is more suitable for enterprises rather than individuals. In Pushmail, each email server is under the control of its manager. Therefore, before pushing email messages to users, the operators must reach agreements with the owners of the email servers on the loading of related programs. In fact, the owners of email servers usually propose such cooperation on condition that the operators must pay related expense. Moreover, users have to buy specially-designed terminals and pay a considerable amount of service charge before using Pushmail, so ordinary users are unaffordable to use Pushmail, which in turn affects the growth of Pushmail. Is there any solution allowing the users to view email messages quickly at affordable expense?
ZTE Multimedia Email Solution
To address the above-mentioned problem, ZTE has launched its Multimedia Email (MEmail) solution based on the R&D strength in its Anyservice VAS solution, as shown in Figure 1. This solution allows operators to build reasonable email business models and expand the market of email applications.
In the MEmail solution, a MEmail gateway is added between the MMSC and the Internet. After registering at the MEmail gateway, users can send and receive email messages via MMS, which has no special requirements on the email server for the sender. Typical application scenarios of the MEmail solution are:
- An Internet user can directly send an email message to a user of mobile phone number@domain name. Upon arrival at the MEmail gateway, the email message is converted to a multimedia message and then sent to the home MMSC of the receiver, and a copy of the message is sent to the receiver's operator-based mailbox. After that, the user can view the message via MMS. Also, the user can answer, forward and edit the message; the edited message is sent to the MMSC via the MMS channel and then sent or forwarded to the sender or other email user via the MEmail gateway.
- A mobile user can set the function of copying an email message in his operator-based mailbox to the MEmail gateway. After that, any email message sent from an Internet user to the mobile user's operator-based mailbox will be directly forwarded to the MEmail gateway and then sent to the user via MMS.
The MEmail service is a brand-new mobile office service that pushes email messages to the users' mobile phones via MMS. With the MEmail service, users can send, receive, view, answer, forward and manage email messages and their attachments in an easy, efficient, flexible and secure manner anytime and anywhere through their mobile phones. In addition to providing all the basic services of the ordinary mailbox, the MEmail service can also be closely integrated with the operators' mailbox service, helping them drive the growth of mailbox and MMS services. The MEmail service has flexible charging policies. For binding of the calling party's mobile phone number and Internet-based mailbox, the charging can be made on a monthly or per-message basis; for the binding of the called party's mobile phone number and operator-based mailbox, the charging can also be made on a monthly or per-message basis.
Compared with the email service that provides SM-based email notification, the MEmail service allows users to receive rich content and answer and forward email messages. Compared with Pushmail, the MEmail service has no limitation on mailbox and does not require the use of special terminals, thereby reducing the cost and expanding the subscriber base. In addition, the MEmail service and operator's mailbox service can be integrated for maximum benefits, helping operators strengthen loyalty with users, especially business users, and increase APRU.
Leading industry experts estimate that there are currently around 123 million Internet users in China, 80% of them are using email service, and 10% of them use Pushmail service. As the MEmail service has no limitation on the mailbox and only requires affordable terminals, its subscriber base will be expanded to cover business users, white collars, students, etc. It is expected that there will be 50 million users of MEmail service and that the ARPU will increase by 5%.