AlcaLu Tackles Video Calling on LTE
CHICAGO -- 4G World 2011 -- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is aiming to help the wireless operators play a role in the growing market for two-way mobile video chat with a new communications platform for Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks.
AlcaLu announced its 4G Consumer Communications Solution Tuesday to tie in with 4G World . The IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-based app lets users toggle between their home phone, TV, smartphone, tablet or laptop to call any user on any network or device via a unified address book. And, as long as the recipient's device supports Flash, consumers can place video calls via the same interface. Both video and voice are delivered in high-definition.
AlcaLu is close to revealing operator deals and is in trials around the globe, says Cassidy Shield, director of marketing and strategy in Alcatel-Lucent's software, solutions and services business unit.
Why this matters
Video calling is emerging as a popular form of mobile communications, but -- as with a lot of mobile services -- the wireless operators are being cut out of the equation. AlcaLu argues that now -- as LTE rolls out -- is the time to raise the bar.
"If I were an operator, I would roll this out at the same time [as LTE]," Shield says. "Don't let people get used to high-speed mobile broadband and then come back later and make the experience better, especially if you're in mid-2013 or later."
Services like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s FaceTime and Skype already offer two-way video chat alternatives, with the important distinction that they only work between compatible devices. AlcaLu is using IMS to build a network-agnostic service in which video functions just like SMS or voice calling. This will be important to make video calling ubiquitous, and it requires operator participation. (See CES 2011: Skype Buys Up Qik for Mobile Push.)
That said, Shield points out that AlcaLu is not looking to help operators compete against existing communication means, but rather make them better. For example, through IMS, carriers can enable FaceTime on LTE, or let a mobile user on the LTE network call someone on Skype. (See Microsoft Plans a WP7 Skype Soiree, Wireless Operators Unite to Kickstart Video Calling and Skype Lets Android Video Call.)
"What we're trying to say is the calling experience is going to change," Shield says. "When you move to LTE and get off traditional legacy infrastructure, the operator has the ability to provide a different experience. The capabilities are there, and we're trying to articulate how to go about doing that."
4G Consumer Communications Solution is part of AlcaLu's apps enablement strategy. Read up on the initiative below.
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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile