Media servers play an important role in enabling many of the real-time communications applications many of us use every day. When you retrieve a voicemail, have an email read back to you while in the car or getting on a conference call, a media server is involved. Media servers provide the back-end voice and/or video transcoding to/from different networks or to/from different endpoints, play/record, mixing of voice and/or video into mashups or conferences, echo cancellation, text to speech and speech to text, text/picture overlay, and simple digit detection to name some of the functions of a media server.
In other words, they enable interactive communication applications. These mobile value-added services account for billions of dollars of service provider revenue. While some OTT apps are eating into certain applications, such as SMS, there are still many real-time telco applications that are revenue generating, or have the potential to be revenue generating, out there. Beyond being value added from a revenue perspective, they are also value added because subscribers associate them with the service provider and therefore these useful and interesting and cool applications could both reduce subscriber churn and increase subscribers. Because of this, the media server role in the network is becoming increasingly more important.
Let’s take a look at some of these applications through the daily journey of SmartPhoneMan. SmartPhoneMan is just like you and me. He keeps a smartphone on him all the time and has interesting apps downloaded that he thinks make his life better or allow him to stay in touch more easily. He starts his leisurely Saturday by going out for a walk to get coffee. There is a line, but he notices something new at the coffee shop – a kiosk. He decides to go over to the kiosk. It talks to him, and he talks to it, and he orders his coffee and pays by credit card. The credit card is validated since they use a location-based service to know where he is. He is his phone! He goes and gets his mocha latte, and he finds he’s kind of jumped the line since the kiosk put in his order when his credit card was validated, and likes that he doesn’t have to wait.
As he’s enjoying his coffee, he’s checking his social posts. A funny picture reminds him he should call his sister, so he simply clicks and calls her. And even though she’s away from her phone, she knows it’s him because he has a cool ring tone set up for her, so she answers it. Once he hangs up, he goes back to checking social media. And he starts getting ads inserted into the social media sites. The coffee shop is telling him he can get 50 percent off another coffee.
During this time, SmartPhoneMan also gets an urgent SMS from his pharmacy’s IVR. His prescription is about to run out, and they have a new prescription ready for him. Even though it’s a bit out of his way, he walks over there.
On the way home with his prescription, unfortunately he sees a fire at a business. Since there aren’t many people around, he takes action. He takes a small video and texts it to 911. Within a few seconds, he hears sirens, so he knows it’s being taken care of. He waits for the emergency responders to show up and gives his statement.
He needs to get home though for the fantasy football draft. Everyone uses different methods to call in – POTS phones, laptop, tablets, cellphones, and smartphones. After clicking a url, they get together for a nice videoconference. The draft goes on but SmartPhoneMan can’t execute a key trade he wanted to make since he’s not talking loud enough. He realizes there is a loudest talker algorithm, so he talks louder and is able to break in. Since SmartPhoneMan is late getting back to his house because of the emergency service text he made, he has started the call on his smartphone but switches it seamlessly over to his large screen in his office once he gets home. He’s better able to participate in the draft this way. He executes what he hopes is a key trade since he notices some interesting data that he hopes someone on a tablet can’t see. He’s happy. He’s not going to come in last this year!
During his fantasy draft, there has been a fire drill at work, so when SmartPhoneMan hangs up he finds seven voice mails on his phone. He listens to all of them, and he knows he’s going to have to get to work today. So he calls his wife and leaves a video mail. She’s used to looking at video on her phone since she is in the health services industry, and they have increasingly been talking with remote patients using WebRTC and video, and they sometimes call her and leave video mails.
What I have described above is not beyond the realm of possibility for a normal day. It describes real-time communications that enhance your day. Some of these services could be revenue generating, and some of these services simply tie the subscriber closer to the service provider. With media servers being the engine behind many of these real-time applications, they will play an increasingly prominent role in the battle for who owns the LTE (News - Alert) subscribers – the service provider, the phone provider, or the search engine itself.Jim Machi is vice president of product management at Dialogic (News - Alert) Inc. (www.dialogic.com).
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino