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Assessing the Viability of Future Voice and Messaging Services Provided by Mobile Network Operators
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Voice and Messaging Services have evolved over the past few decades. In recent years, Over-the-Top (OTT) participants such as WeChat, WhatsApp, and LINE have introduced rich multimedia messaging services that SMS could not provide. These OTT applications have also granted users the ability to make international voice calls at a low cost or even for free compared to the traditional roaming plans they would have had to purchase from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). The evolution of the voice and messaging services landscape in Asia-Pacific has caused MNOs in the region to lose market share to these participants with superior product offerings.The introduction of Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) and Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) is an attempt by the GSM Association (GSMA) and MNOs to recapture voice revenue through the many advantages that these two products offer to users. Although the deployment of the IP Multimedia Substation (IMS) network—supporting infrastructure for VoLTE and VoWiFi—is costly, the investment is a necessary one for MNOs to compete with OTT participants. Similarly, the Rich Communication Services (RCS) initiative by GSMA, subsequently supported by Google, was introduced for MNOs to offer rich media services directly to subscribers through native applications. While it may be difficult for MNOs to compete in the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) messaging market due to the stickiness of OTT applications, Application-to-Peer (A2P) remains a large and open market for MNOs, where they can leverage on RCS capabilities to provide a comprehensive suite of rich messaging services for the end user. Voice and messaging Services in Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% to reach US$217 billion by 2023. Growth will be largely driven by VoLTE and RCS messaging, which will be partially offset by the decline in legacy voice services as well as peer-to-peer SMS messaging. The pressure of OTT participants in the voice and messaging services industry requires MNOs to further innovate and develop improved services for both Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) communication. With the development of artificial intelligence, chatbots, and predictive analytics among other technologies, MNOs have the potential to offer more sophisticated services to consumers and thrive in this extremely competitive industry. Companies mentioned in this study include, but are not limited to, U Mobile, China Mobile, Telkomsel, DTAC, Orange, T-Mobile, SK Telecom, Dialogic, Mavenir, Ribbon Communications, Google, Tencent (WeChat), WhatsApp, Telegram, and Skype.
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