As we have been updating our solutions for Service Provider WiFi, one of the key questions that we needed to answer concerned the assumptions regarding client functionality. The issues raised are perhaps broader than just SP WiFi and key to driving a coherent approach to Mobile SP architectures - can we assume that the client functionality is homogeneous or do we need architectures which accept that there will be a heterogeneous array of client capabilities?
Clearly, GSM was built on an assumption of a standardized client - indeed the MMI is standardized (in 3GPP 22.030) such that when we enter *#06# we are all presented with the device's IMEI. Perhaps we can see UMA/GAN in the same light, trying to extend the same approach to dual mode phones - defining an architecture which assumed a homogeneous client with integrated UMA/GAN capabilities.
Now with 3GPP defining IEEE 802.11U connection managers, IPSec/IKEv2 I-WLAN, DSMIPv6 for non-3GPP access and IP Flow Mobility based on MIPv6 signalling extensions, we need to appreciate that future architectures can no longer assume a homogeneous client environment. We need SP WiFi architectures which incrementally provide enhanced functionality depending on client capabilities but which do not exclude users in the "all-or nothing" approach of UMA/GAN.
If this is true for SP WiFi, then how does such learnings impact the architectures for supporting RCS, VoLTE mobile video and other clients focused on monetization rather than optimization?
I just got forwarded a link to Dean Bubley's blog from June 25th - http://disruptivewireless.blogspot.com/2010/06/mobile-operators-future-voice.html
The part that resonates with me was... "As always, divergence will be more important than convergence. Multiplicity will rule, not unification."
I think this really is a fundamental shift - not just for SP WiFi clients or VoLTE realizations, but an area which will critically impact how mobile operator's are going to have to address all future monetization opportunities.
Thanks for the link.
To an extent, heterogeneity has crept in ever since SMS became popular - the user interface & experience is very different on various brands of devices. I remember an operator standing at a conference in 2005, saying that SMS revenues on Brand A of phones was 3x that on Brand B, as it was a much simpler & more seamless experience that encouraged consumers to try, and become loyal, to the service.
Connection management is even more problematic - it's an area that I've been following for a while, and see that the underlying complexity of networks is outpacing the ability of the CM to evolve fast enough. In particular, because WiFi is unlicenced, and effectively has "Private Mode", "Public Mode" and "Operator Mode", the number of scenarios is proliferating even further. Add in the (currently very difficult) ability to discriminate macro vs. femto connection, and perhaps the ability to have 2+ connections open simultaneously, and the problem gets deeper still.
The divergence / convergence theme is one I have been espousing to clients for years. Often the "elegance" of technical convergence is a poor fit for useability - or even the fickle hand of fashion. Convergence regularly fails to address user psychology about combining things that "ought" to stay separate. As an analogy - it may make economic *sense* to have a hybrid, converged washing machine / toaster in my kitchen, but it would still "feel wrong". Almost as wrong as paying for it through my monthy mobile bill.
I also see failed attempts at convergence in areas such as aggregated views of social networks - yet another of the many reasons for the irrelevance of RCS. http://disruptivewireless.blogspot.com/2010/07/death-of-kin-proof-point-that-mobile.html
A good example of divergence is the current viral adoption of BlackBerry Messenger among youths in some countries. From a purist's perspective it's the wrong answer - silo'd, non-interoperable, non-integrated, proprietary. Yet unlike its lowest-common-denominator peers, it has a compelling *user-driven* appeal of "exclusivity" - the complete opposite of ubiquity. It allows cliques to form, it tends to work best for the "cool kids" and so forth. And all that is an "emergent" property, not really the objective of RIM - but like SMS, it fits with the underlying, decomposed user social needs & psychology. (And the battery).
Divergence in mobile voice use is going to be the next trend. It's something I've been advising various clients on recently, and should prove pretty fascinating to see evolve over the next couple of years.
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