Mobile communications is evolving

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You might think there is nothing new in that statement and in general mobile evolution has been vast and wide-reaching, but if you take a closer look, traditional mobile operators’ services haven’t progressed at the same pace, even since the full roll-out of 3G.

 

What has changed is the way we access and use the Internet on a mobile device. The Internet is home to a vast array of communications services for which we only need a constant connection for instant online presence, chat, video calling, content sharing and multimedia streaming. So on one side we have seemingly endless innovation and on the other, very little.

But this new evolution in mobile services based on Internet access has its drawbacks. There is no consistent user experience between the service providers, the clients could be better “integrated” with the mobile phone, there is virtually no customer support, service availability can be patchy, and very importantly, they can be vulnerable to security flaws.

Enabling mobile operators to host these new experiences in mobile multimedia and social networking as well as integrating the services with the mobile devices is an important challenge, since if these services are to exist in a mobile network environment they must deliver on all the service facets that are expected from a mobile operator.

The challenge is to deliver a consistent user experience across different types of smartphones, each with different technical capabilities being used on different mobile networks. All in all, this means that service interoperability between different devices and across different networks can be an issue on more than one level and is therefore highly complex.

An initiative being led by the GSMA and supported by the industry’s major players, including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, France Telecom and Telefonica, has been addressing this for some time under a set of specifications known as Rich Communication Suite (RCS). These specifications define the path for the development and interoperability of mobile multimedia and data communication services such as mobile chat, enhanced phone book services, social networking, and content sharing across networks and devices. This will allow the next evolution in new mobile services requiring presence, peer-to-peer media streaming or content sharing to really take-off.

Before we can get to this stage, however, interoperability remains the key challenge, and Nokia and Symbian both see open source development as the route to effective interoperability and long-term development.  Consequently, Nokia have contributed to the Symbian platform a number of enablers important for RCS, such as full IMS functionality and peer-to-peer media streaming, to help improve and encourage interoperability between RCS services operating on Symbian.

So, what does this mean? Quite simply, anyone can go onto the Symbian developer website and take the code contributed by Nokia, build on it and contribute to its development in open source. As a working example of this, Nokia and Neusoft are collaborating on Symbian’s RCS development plan for S^4 and will be showcasing their RCS services at SEE 2010 this year. This open working ethos is especially important with projects like RCS that require the collaboration of many for the benefit of interoperability and service advancement across the industry.

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