Monday, 26 April 2010

Billing must evolve into a revenue generator

There has been much debate over the past year or so about how telcos can monetise the content delivered over their networks. We're starting to see telcos taking more interest in this area but many are slow to grasp the strategic opportunity here. Payments represents an opportunity for telcos to enter the content value chain by enabling payment and settlement of content delivered across their networks. It also provides an opportunity to transform billing from purely a cost centre into a revenue generator. Monetisation of content is vital to avoid marginalisation in a content driven world. If telcos don't seize the opportunity, someone else will!

I will be continuing the discussion at the TM Forum Management World Revenue Management & Profitability Summit on 20 May in Nice.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Digital Economy Act - Message to Surrey East parliamentary candidates

Like many others, I was very disappointed to see the Digital Economy Act pushed through parliament in the dying days of the last government. The Act was passed following inadequate debate and no real understanding of the issues at stake. Unfortunately a majority of MPs did not even bother to vote on a piece of legislation that has significant implications for the future of a vital industry. Clauses in the Act reflect the lobbying by sections of the media industry and not the reality of the Internet world we now live in. With a few honourable exceptions, Parliament behaved as if it had no comprehension of the technology revolution around us.

The Digital Economy Act is a deeply flawed piece of legislation that requires urgent revision in the next parliament, whichever parties are in government. The approach to copyright protection is based on the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, a piece of legislation that predates the digital and Internet age. This copyright legislation needs urgent examination to understand how it should now support digital copyright. The implicit assumption in the Digital Economy Act that it is still fit for purpose must be debated. There are many ways to protect the intellectual property of the creative media industries and changes in the way copyright supports digital goods and services would help to drive the adoption of new business models in the online world. Content providers must step up to the challenge of providing digital content that users want, in the way they want it and at a price fair to all parties.

Making Internet Service Providers and providers of public wireless hotspots responsible for policing the content delivered over their networks puts an unreasonable onus on service providers and makes them liable for content they have no control over. It will stifle innovation in the online world, impose a heavy cost burden on service providers and cause providers of free wireless services to withdraw them, rather than risk prosecution. Technology is smarter than legislators and users will continue to be one step ahead of attempts to control them.

My challenge to the candidates in Surrey East is to provide a firm commitment that if elected you will campaign for the relevant clauses in the Digital Economy Act to be repealed and for a full debate on the future of digital copyright in the UK.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Pibbix - sets a new standard for voice to text voicemail conversion

Last week the team at Pibbix kindly sent me an invitation for the beta of their new Pibbix Voicemail service. For those of you who used SpinVox or if you're in the United States, Google Voice, you'll be familiar with the concept of receiving your voicemails as text messages and/or emails. This concept provides a text transcription of the message and avoids having to dial in to listen to messages. Over the past couple of years I've become very used to receiving my voicemails as texts and can't imagine having to dial in to pick them up again.

Pibbix has taken the same concept but looked at what it needs to do to be a business grade service. One of the problems with SpinVox was the variable quality of the speech conversion. I could usually get the gist of the message but the detail often eluded me. Pibbix uses a combination of automation and human conversion to deliver top quality transcriptions. The message transcriptions I've received over the past few days have been spot on - better than I was expecting.

Price transparency is another key feature and launch pricing is simple:
  • £7.50 for 20 messages converted to text
  • £16 for 50 messages converted to text
  • £30 for 100 messages converted to text
The Pibbix Voicemail control panel is very clear and allows the user to review received messages, record a personal outgoing message, set how messages should be delivered - SMS, email, MP3 attachment. An example of the thought that has gone into the application is the ability to switch off transcription and SMS alerts for calls from withheld numbers (the message is still delivered as an MP3 attachment). The thinking here is that these calls are often unimportant and users may not want them to be counted against their bundle.

Another feature I like is the ability to link multiple mobile or landline numbers to a single Pibbix Voicemail box. All your messages are in one place and SMS alerts are delivered to your main mobile number.

The Pibbix blog has a good summary of all features and you can request an invitation to the beta here.

Overall I'm very impressed by Pibbix Voicemail. It addresses a gap in the market and will appeal to time pressured business users. I'm looking forward to seeing the next product from Pibbix!

Follow Pibbix on Twitter at @pibbix.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

giffgaff launches their goody bags (new tariffs)

Today virtual mobile operator giffgaff launched their new tariffs under the interesting brand 'goody bags'. These tariffs are excellent value, although you do need an unlocked handset for your giffgaff SIM as giffgaff doesn't sell handsets.

giffgaff describes a goody bag as a 'mix of UK minutes, texts, and mobile Internet that lasts for a month'.

And giffgaff tariffs really are unlimited as long as it's personal use and you don't connect the phone to a PC.

giffgaff is owned by O2 and therefore uses the O2 network. My personal experience in London and the South East has been that whilst O2 coverage is average, Vodafone is better, for both voice and data. Of course your experience may be different where you are.

Further information from the giffgaff website.

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