& cplSiteName &

Libon Liberates Orange From RCS

Sarah Thomas
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, 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
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
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
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
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 Que Sera Sarah
This week in our WiC roundup: Cell C's CEO under fire for radio show comments; Clinton plays the woman card; Intel discusses diversity backlash; and more.
WiC is proud to have Cisco, Hitachi Consulting, Infinera, Netcracker, Redknee, NetNumber and Open Networking Foundation joining our cause.
This week in our WiC roundup: a father-daughter war of words; a new face for the $20; a look at venture capital firms; and more.
2016 finalists for WiC's inaugural Leading Lights -- Most Inspiring Woman in Comms, Female Tech Pioneer of the Year and Female-Led Startup to Watch -- are revealed.
This week in our WiC roundup: entry-level women ask for more money – and get it; Verizon workers demand better contracts; 4-H refocuses around STEM; and more.
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Deepfield's Craig Labovitz

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Shades of Ray
    Leading Lights 2016: Shortlists Announced

    4|20|16   |   0:53   |   (0) comments


    The judging is over and the Leading Lights 2016 shortlists have been published -- you can see who made the cut by clicking on this link.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Introducing MulteFire – Qualcomm at MWC 2016

    4|18|16   |   3.29   |   (0) comments


    MulteFire is the latest option for using LTE in unlicensed spectrum. As oppose to its close 'siblings', LAA and LTE-U, MulteFire operates solely in unlicensed spectrum, which enables it to offer the best of two worlds – LTE-like performance with WiFi-like deployment simplicity. In this interview, Sanjeev Athalye, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm ...
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Grant Van Rooyen of Cologix

    4|18|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    ONS 2016 – Demonstration of Huawei's NetMatrix Multi-Vendor SDN Orchestrator

    4|15|16   |     |   (0) comments


    This demonstration shows how Huawei's NetMatrix SDN Orchestrator (SDN-O) addresses an operator's core service agility needs for services spanning multi-domain, multivendor networks: it includes a demonstration of:
    - Rapid New Service Design: using YANG to model a complex example of multi-domain, multivendor L3VPN network connectivity service that ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    AT&T Wants to Own North Carolina

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Venessa Harrison, president of North Carolina for AT&T, tells how the company will expand its GigaPower service beyond the seven N.C. cities it already serves.

  • This blog, sponsored by AT&T, is the second part of a ten-part series examining next-generation broadband technologies titled "Behind the Speeds."
  • Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    FCC Poised to Re-Regulate Wholesale Access
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/28/2016
    Mitel Asks: What Time of Day Do You Shower?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/25/2016
    GoT Fans Curse HBO (Not Right) Now
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.