Light Reading
Orange is smart not to place all its bets on RCS, but build a service that will work for all users, regardless of the network or OTT app being used.

Libon Liberates Orange From RCS

Sarah Reedy
2/25/2014
50%
50%

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, Orange 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
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/26/2014 | 3:37:14 AM
Re: Sosh
Sarah, 

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. 

-Susan
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2014 | 10:21:51 AM
Sosh
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 Light Reedy
Wireless operators are jumping on the mobile music bandwagon, a move that sounds good for many reasons.
The worlds of tennis, fashion and wearables collide as Ralph Lauren and OMsignal turn a polo into a sensor to track your every movement.
The fine print on Sprint's new $60 plan suggests it can prioritize other plans' traffic first – a letdown, and maybe even a net neutrality violation.
Verizon is reportedly working with an industry consortium to launch its own app store, but past efforts suggest it's not a smart move for the operator.
Join us Thursday at 12:00 p.m. EST for a live chat with Heavy Reading's Roz Roseboro about how NFV is changing data center requirements and operations.
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of Integrated Solutions on SoftCOM & NFV Monetization

8|26|14   |   4.43   |   (0) comments


Libin Dai, Director of Integrated Solutions, Carrier Business Group, discusses Huawei's SoftCOM and NFV monetization. Huawei believes that NFV monetization should be service-driven rather than network-driven, and that operators should have network transformation, service transformation and a compatible and collaborative ecosystem in place in order to deploy NFV.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of US NFV Lab on CloudEdge & the Future of NFV

8|26|14   |   4.06   |   (0) comments


Sean Chen, Director of US NFV Lab at Huawei, discusses Huawei's new approach to NFV in open collaboration. Huawei believes that through Proof of Concept tests, it could help operators learn and communicate with the industry more effectively. Sean believes that successful implementation of NFV should have its values reaching to end users and discusses how Huawei's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Highlights @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   3.34   |   (0) comments


At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago Huawei showcases its high-level strategy, the SoftCOM architecture, which helps operators reduce the cost of ownership of their network infrastructure and generate additional revenue in the ICT service environment. Huawei showcases over 30 pilot programs from across the globe, focusing on the industry-leading commercial ...
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Hot Topics
Comcast Streams Back to School
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/21/2014
Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/26/2014
Utilities to Pump $11.2B Into Smart Grid – Study
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 8/26/2014
T-Mobile: Small Cells? We're Dense Already
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/22/2014
Verizon Launches QR Code Security Solution
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/26/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed