GSMA survey reveals big demand for operator-led services

29 June 2016 |


A new GSMA survey reveals that there is strong global demand for operator-led services rather than the app-based ones users have to grapple with today.

Global mobile subscribers are demanding richer, global and open-IP-based messaging services such as pre-calling, instant messaging, live video and real-time photo or file sharing from mobile network operators, says a new GSMA report The Future of Mobile Communications out today. 

The research surveyed participants from China, India, Spain and the United States about their use of traditional mobile operator voice and SMS services, as well as internet-based messaging services. 

It highlighted strong interest in new advanced mobile operator-led messaging services which are enabled by Rich Communications Services (RCS) and voice over LTE (VoLTE) and work natively on any device and network without the need to download an app. 

Operator-led services were preferred to existing popular internet-based messaging services, with 79% of people surveyed saying such a service would be relevant to them and 89 % regarding them as unique.

Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA said: “Although internet-based messaging services are incredibly popular, they are siloed and closed, requiring users to download an app that their contacts might not be on. Mobile operators have an important role to play in offering evolved, secure and reliable messaging services that are interoperable, universal and work directly from any device and on any network.”

He continued: “Operators must meet this demand for advanced communications services by deploying RCS and VoLTE, which, when connected with other operators, allows users to reach anybody on any network and provides incredible messaging experiences.”

The report highlights that consumers are looking for a single, feature-rich communications service they can use to reach all of their contacts. Operator-led advanced communications services were preferred to internet-based services because they built on the existing features of internet messaging apps, but provided innovative new features such as pre-calling. 

Across the four markets, respondents were enthusiastic about the ability to indicate that a call was important and even be able to highlight the subject of the call. Respondents also singled out support for one-to-one chat and the ability to use the same voice calling service over mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks as attractive features.

The report highlights that a mobile operator, although unlikely to charge consumers directly for IP-based communications services, could still see substantial financial benefits of up to US$5 billion between 2015 and 2020 for operators in developed markets, according to GSMA Intelligence figures. 

The enterprise market is predicted to be the main driver for this increase, as well as new product and service innovations, such as conversational commerce which enables users to complete transactions within the messaging service.

There are currently 456 LTE networks worldwide, 48 of which support VoLTE, and 47 operators in 34 countries have launched RCS services to date. As a result, nearly half a billion people globally are interconnected using these advanced communications services. 

The study underscores the strategic importance of advanced communications services to mobile operators in maintaining strong relations with subscribers, which can be further enhanced as networks are interconnected, enabling people to use services across different networks and devices. 

The report also argues that there are opportunities for operators with trusted brands to position their advanced communications services as safer and more private than those of the internet players.