Metaswitch launches Accession at MWC

This is Super Bowl week in the wireless world with Mobile World Congress, and everyone there is trying to get and keep your attention. I'm not at MWC, and I don't usually post about launches tied to the event, but I got an advance briefing of Accession, Metaswitch's latest value proposition for mobile operators.

It's a heady word, and a lot of interesting ideas to kick around, but the overall spin for Accession is pretty good from what I can tell. The goal is clear, and operators know they can't drop the ball with mobility - the field is shifting too fast to stand on the sidelines and watch subscribers figure things out without their carriers coaching them along. If you happen to drop by Metaswitch's booth, you'll know why I'm saying these things - otherwise, let's just punt this para and move on.

So, if you want to get into the details, go straight to the Accession website, and the easier-to-digest press release that ran this morning. There are lots of new acronyms in this tech-heavy announcement, but the standout for me is IMT - Immersive Multimedia Telephony. Ultimately, this is about delivering a mobile experience that is as close as possible to what we get on our PCs or video monitors in the conference room.

That's asking a lot, I know, but Metaswitch understands the pain points of carriers, and mobile operators have a distinct set of challenges. Mobility delivers so much more utility than most fixed environments, and wireless operators know they have to move on from simple voice to keep subscribers happy. End user expectations are so high now, and the smartphone explosion has put operators in perpetual catch-up mode to upgrade their networks and deliver the services that make these must-have devices so popular.

As such, Accession is all about enabling an IMT experience so carriers can stay relevant with their subscribers. At the end of the day, operators really just have two things that matter - a phone number to assign subscribers and their trust. That number can be incredibly valuable if you can wrap all these other services around it - much like designating your favorite website as your home page. Accession does this in many ways, and I'll just cite a few examples.

One is how their platform is RCS and IMS-based, meaning that the subscriber's phone number can seamlessly connect across various mobile networks, screens, and support the modes we're used to on the PC - messaging, IM, presence, video, etc. Nothing really new here, but Metaswitch is positioning this in a way that makes the phone number more valuable. They've had good success with Thrutu, which now has 28 options to make the in-call experience richer. This adds a lot of stickiness and value to what once was an ordinary phone call, and provides the caller with the aforementioned IMT experience.

Another way they do that is enabling the operator to centralize the storage of the subscriber's contacts. So, whenever you update your contacts, those changes are propagated to all your other devices associated with your mobile number. Now things get interesting with FMC-type handoffs from mobile device to desktop softphone - or even other mobile devices - smartphone to tablet. Related to that is what Metaswitch calls the "new twisted pair", the idea being to twin your mobile device with your softphone for any screen, anywhere communications - but with the mobile number being the driver.

These capabilities are really important, not just to play in the emerging world of LTE, but also to co-exist with the OTT interlopers who are siphoning away minutes and revenues like never before. Savvy operators need to find a way to partner with those who are really in demand with subscribers, but also to add their own value and participate in the new revenues that LTE will make possible. Again, this is where that phone number has value, since all the subscriber's data and history are attached to it. So long as operators use that data responsibly, trust will be retained. That's other key asset they have, and it makes all the difference for getting subscribers to adopt new services.

There is a lot more to consider there, but the main thing for operators is that Accession can provide all this now, without the need to invest in new/costly hardware. OTT is both a threat and opportunity, and Accession opens up new possibilities, not just for operators to keep their fingers in more revenue pies - both from subscribers and advertisers - but also in creating new business models built around private labelled offerings that could in fact be done in partnership with OTTs. With the right moves, mobile operators can get the best of both worlds here - theirs and what OTTs are getting - and on that front, Metaswitch has a good story to tell with Accession.