& cplSiteName &

Libon Liberates Orange From RCS

Sarah Thomas

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- If I were an Orange employee this week, I'd have a hard time restraining myself from going around to other operator booths yelling, "Look, it can be done! You can build a successful OTT app without waiting for standards!"

I'd probably get trampled by one of those giant Android creatures, but hopefully they'd hear my message.

Point being, Salt SA 's Libon app is a refreshing example of how an operator can support an industry standard, Rich Communications Service (RCS), without being stalled waiting for everyone else to get on board as well. (See Orange Launches Libon Open Chat .)

The carrier's innovation arm, Orange Vallée, launched the voicemail-oriented app back in November 2012 as a response to OTT players such as Skype Ltd. , as well as fellow operators like Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which had a similar over-the-top app Tu Me that was ultimately shut down last August, citing lack of use. (See Orange Finds Its Web Services Voice and Telefónica: Tu Me Has Got To Go.)

Lack of use isn't a problem Orange has had with Libon, according to its creator, Giles Corbett. The ratio of active users to registrants is more than 50% and of daily to monthly users greater than 30%, he said. He wouldn't reveal how many users are on the app, as he admitted it would look puny compared to WhatsApp's 450 million, but it's enough to prove an operator app can be a real contender. (See Innovation Makes Life Better for Orange and Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp for $16B.)

Helping to grow that number is its latest update which adds messaging to Libon's voice service and lets users connect with others on any operator, regardless of what service they are on. Dubbed OpenChat, the app lets a Libon user IM a contact on SMS, WhatsApp, or another service provided they have an HTML5 browser on their device. If the recipient isn't on Libon, the chat will include a link to a webpage where the chat can continue free and over-the-top of the network. From the link, non-users will be encouraged to join, but it's not required, and the chat stays active indefinitely.

This is just the next step in Libon's evolution, and Corbett said group messaging and video chat are still to come. But, more importantly, and back to why I'd be the MWC crier -- Libon is a technically an RCS app, but this version is not. It's a stop gap, and a pretty elegant one at that, until RCS is widespread. (See DT Backs Jibe's Cross-Carrier RCS.)

"From an operator's perspective, if RCS were everywhere, the world would be a better place," Corbett quipped at the show. "But the only way that will happen is if we build out services then use RCS when it becomes available, rather than wait. Orange's approach is to bring everything to the end user however we can then link into the network when it's available."

So the hope is that Libon will one day be fully RCS, but its future doesn't hinge on the tech, which has been a long time in the making. To speed things up internally, Orange is re-positioning all its RCS, or Joyn, services across its operator base to Libon. It's also running RCS trials in Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia with more to come this year. Corbett said Orange hopes to license Libon to other operators and is having discussions with several here at the show.

It's not revolutionary, but Libon is a breath of fresh in an area that's grown stale for operators and overpopulated with OTT alternatives. Libon may still have a hard time keeping up with the giants a la WhatsApp, but it's certainly much preferable to the do nothing approach of many of Orange's peers. The market won't wait for RCS, and neither should operators -- at least not without something else to show in the meantime.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/27/2014 | 1:15:18 PM
Re: Sosh
I'd say equally convenient. Both are downloaded apps, but Skype requires both parties to have it, so you're more limited there. 
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
2/26/2014 | 3:37:14 AM
Re: Sosh

Although €5 a month doesn't sound bad at all Iam not sure if this is more convenient than Skype. Looking forward to the video demo. 

Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2014 | 10:21:51 AM
Corbett said that Orange subsidiary Sosh is using Libon as well, and offers an international calling plan for €5 a month to make calls to 40 countries. He pointed out that that is 4 times less month than Skype charges to call 4 times fewer countries. 

It's certainly not a perfect app, and far from alone in the market, but I think it's an important move from the operator who recognizes the need to be in this market. 

Video demo of the app coming soon..
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Women often struggle to advance past middle management or end up leaving the workplace at that time, so WiC's 11th panel discussion in London next week will tackle how to get unstuck and keep moving up the corporate ladder.
Intel's Lynn Comp joins WiC on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 1PM EST to talk company culture -- what it is, how to craft a positive one and how to communicate it internally and externally.
Join Women in Comms for its 10th networking breakfast and panel discussion, where we promise to tackle those uncomfy questions, on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in Denver.
WiC congratulates the winners of our inaugural Leading Lights awards: Cisco's Yvette Kanouff, Zayo Group's Sandi Mays and startup Grid4C.
Leaders from Mellanox, Arista Networks, Syniverse, ECI Telecom and Cisco round out WiC's inaugural female tech pioneers of the year.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
WiCipedia: Grace Hopper Promotes Diversity, Girl Scouts Code & How to Thrive
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 10/21/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.