Social networks present quality of service challenge for service providers

Orlando -- Social networks can threaten communications service providers that don't adapt to a new market, members of a panel at GENBAND's Perspectives13 conference said. Further, customers more interested in social networking apps than in a quality, reliable experience can present a problem to established providers.

"This is really an interesting time and opportunity" where the "value is in the apps world," said panel member Lee Blaylock, founder and CEO of [email protected] "When you control the app ecosystem you have a platform."

It goes beyond that, said Adam Hanin, senior director of industry solutions for"Owning the app is the key … but fundamentally it comes down to understanding the customer need."

Blaylock and Hanin were part of an eclectic panel hashing out the subject, "Harnessing the Power of Social Networking" at the conference's Monday afternoon session. Executives from SAP, Fring, and GENBAND also put in their perspectives.

The panelists agreed for the most part that social networking should be a key element of any service provider's vision--either as an integral part of it or as a partner with someone who is. Technically, that's not a problem.

"The technology is the easy part," said Fred Kemmerer, GENBAND's CTO. "The hard part is the business model" and what will and won't work for both the end users and the providers.

In some instances, the difference and the manner in which new concepts are tested and adopted by carriers causes good ideas to die on the vine. In others, it causes those ideas to come to fruition without the carrier's participation.

Carriers, according to panelists, often approach a situation with principles rooted in the days when owning a phone number gave them a power position over the public. Today's consumers, though, are not enamored with the phone; they're in love with applications that come across broadband networks.

One solution might be a changed mindset, said Marco ten Vaanholt, GVP and head of social business networks for SAP.  He suggested that carriers stop thinking of themselves as a "telco" and start thinking of themselves as a "softco" as in software company.

Another solution, grounded more in technology, might come from GENBAND's recently introduced SPiDR WebRTC gateway that is designed to bridge traditional VoIP networks and the Internet's open ecosystem, said Kemmerer.

Carriers are big, he said, but "nobody's big enough to be on the scale of the Internet." WebRTC, he said, gives carriers that scale.

Show Coverage: GENBAND's Perspectives13: Continuing coverage from Orlando

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