Texts Are Too Over the Top

12:05 AM Olympic officials are asking viewers to find alternatives to texting but aren't people doing that anyway with OTT apps?

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

August 1, 2012

2 Min Read
Texts Are Too Over the Top

12:05 AM -- Something happened in this year's Olympics that hasn't in games past: Viewers are texting and tweeting and posting so much about the events that they're overwhelming the networks and interrupting coverage.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) asked viewers to "use another means" to send their mass texts and Tweets. I'm not surprised such a high-profile, global event is wreaking havoc on the networks in London, but the funny thing is, I thought operators were worried their customers already were using alternative means to text.

Ovum Ltd. , for example, suggests that operators lost $13.9 billion in potential SMS revenue in 2011 to social messaging apps like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iMessage, WhatsApp and even Twitter Inc. on their mobile phones. (See SMS Boom Days Are Over.)

Of course, operators will still generate a total of $722.7 billion in revenues from SMS between 2011 and 2016, according to Informa Telecoms & Media , so it probably depends on how you frame things. (See The Two Faces of OTT and Samsung Gets Its ChatOn Too.)

I recently spoke with Jim Israel, head of U.S. operations for SMS vendor Acision BV , which was out to dispel the notion of SMS cannibalization. But, the main point I took away was that it shouldn't matter what chat service consumers use. It's the wireless operators' job to make sure they all work together and provide the best possible experience for their customers.

They don't do that now, but Long Term Evolution (LTE) would be a good place to start with Rich Communications Suite (RCS) apps. Operators can use their network assets, like the phone book and presence, to make messaging more valuable and, most important, interoperable. This can all happen from one integrated portal that would still keep them in the value chain, just not the sole proprietor of it. (See Spanish Telcos Joyn Forces to Tackle OTT Threat .)

The ideal would be that the messaging service defaults to the best, cheapest option. In the case of the Olympics and other high-congestion events, the default would be OTT apps. That'd be even more valuable if the different OTT apps talked to each other, too.

Embracing OTT in the mix may be too idealistic for wireless operators, but they at least need to think about how to make their services more compelling in any scenario and, importantly, to interoperate, so you can text anyone you want.

Otherwise, what are we supposed to do, actually call people on the phone?

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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