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Introduction to VAS

 

IDEA


Value Added Service (VAS) is some service above base technology which can bring additional income to Operator. That was the idea of growing up the profit by offering some useful service which is not associated with base service (in subscriber’s mind) and considered to be paid due to it usefulness.


There were two reasons to implement VAS:

  • Profit on base technology is in very competitive environment:
    • same in costs as there are just 2-3 leading vendors for specific telecom area in all the world,
    • same prices because subscribers can easily compare price for the same service,
    • a lot of providers/operators – easy to change and no subscribers’ loyalty.
  • Some specific hot service is vary operator to operator with no standard cost model for VAS and profit can be up to 1000% more compare to base technology service as the price determined by usefulness and not by cost.

 

Important to notice that along with operator’s VAS like WAP for cellular network there is a big segment of VAS developed by Content Providers. This is the same useful service from the subscriber’s point of view however for the operator itself it bring only traffic/commission payments, sometimes kind of royalty and some loyalty increase. This site has huge part dedicated to Content Provider business too.


Notice: As my experience is in Mobile Cellular Networks, then most of examples I mean for Mobile Networks! If I will refer to any specific for the Fixed Telephony or Broad Band Access – then I will mention it.



 

TECHNICAL


If tell from point of view of 2G networks - in Mobile Cellular Networks base services are Voice, SMS, FAX, PRA. Originally there were only Voice, but now we can state that other mentioned above is a base functionality for any Mobile Telecom core equipment. In Wireline Phone Networks these are the same services except SMS. In Wirleine/Wireless IP Networks (ETHERNET, Fibre-Optic, various DSLs, Wi-Fi, Wi-MAX) it’s the only one base service – access to Internet.


Meantime there are several notices:


1st Notice - is that Wireline Telecom hasn’t such a base feature as SMS and widespread of this service in wireline phone networks is surely can be considered as VAS.

2nd Notice – is that word “Services” in VAS has meaning – “Services for Subscribers”. Therefore, various internal network innovations can be considered as base for VAS, but not as VAS itself. For example –international calls with usage of VoIP International Gateways will allow to offer good end-user tariff, which will lead to increase of ARPU due to longer international conversations. Another example – GPRS/EDGE/HSPA is a base for many new services. One exception is that GPRS/EDGE/HSPA can be offered as “Service for Subscribers” itself.

3rd Notice – There is various near range communications such as NFC, Bluetooth, ZeegBee. Now it’s considered as Terminal’s Value Added Function, but also can be used to establish VAS for profit of Telecom Operators / Content Providers.

4th Notice – For Wireline Internet Providers there is “Triple Play” which can be considered as Base Services. Meantime any additions such as Votes and Video-On-Demand for IPTV, SMS and FAX for VoIP telephony and for IP access VPN services and various special subscriptions – are VAS!


Another important notice is that any VAS is not only a function of Telecom Network, but this is always the function of the User Terminal! Sometimes there is firm core technology but a lack of terminal functions as it was for CDMA 2000 1x networks. Sometimes it’s contrary like it’s in WCDMA (HSPA) networks regarding Telecom Operators or A-GPS/GPS Services regarding Content Providers Business.


Moreover – in the explorations on this portal I will show that there is a wide range for development and re-organization of present technologies and therefore there is a wide range of not yet exists end-user equipment with already well presented technologies.


USER


Whatever technologies are below some VAS – user don’t care about it. There can be simple SMS sending out and very sophisticated server part or contrary – very sophisticated set of commands and some generic hardware for it. Therefore there is two important points from users point of view – which benefits I have and how easy to use this service.


DEVELOPMENT


There are natural ways for creation of VASes which are based on regular private conversation. These are considered as natural properties and have to be easy and meaning as cheap.

  • Speak = VoIP cheap calls or Push-To-Talk.
  • Show emotions = smiles (now) or corresponding sounds (can be)
  • Draw scheme = Scheme created by stylus and sent as MMS.
  • Show photos = MMS or easy link share (content service).
  • Share music = MMS or easy link share (content service).

 

Meantime there are yet not covered properties of regular chat, such as touches and sharing smells. Sure it’s quite possible to develop this! For example now it can be usage of terminal vibration to emulate some typical touches or movements. In future even more! Smell generating modules for PC are in development for at least 10 years – can be in phones in the future.

 

Another natural way is a willing of human being to be notable. Therefore whatever can make someone in the top of the list or in some VIP group is a reason to think about creating VAS! There is well known examples of moving photos, blog or profile on a first page with charge SMS or becoming member of VIP group using same kind charge SMS. There is another way – provocation for bigger usage of regular resources (send more regular SMS, spend more time via GPRS and so on).


And some another ways, which can be called as “IT” is whatever other communication, computer and entertainment items can provide. Such things as TV, radio, newspapers, gaming, entertainment, calculations, databases, security and other IT activities. There can be lot of services and these even easier to develop as IT is naturally close to telecommunications. Just several examples of services – Mobile TV, Mobile Video On Demand, News Subscription, Mobile Network Gaming, Mobile Office, Mobile VPN access and so on.


Last thing I want to mention here is usage of non-communication technologies but with opportunity for operators to earn money on it. Best example – Mobile Payment using NFC (Near-Field Communications). The payment account can be common with the telephony account and thus Operator at least have more money and this money is pre-paid. Another option is usage of mobile phone or VoIP fixed phone as remote control for security system.


MARKETING


Finally we have reached the main article – marketing. The aim of marketing is to offer something easy and interesting for the subscriber.


VAS is something advertised as new for the subscriber whether it’s new in fact or not. New VAS doesn’t mean new technology and contrary – ultimately new implemented technology may not lead to VAS creation. Therefore the technical way may be as following:

  • not affect technical side at all,
  • sometimes there must be some corrections in present system,
  • some time there need develop new system,
  • finally there can be technology limitations when it’s impossible to make full feature service at present time.

 

To say honestly – most of VAS which is still not exists are not limited by technologies at all! Reasons that we have lack of interesting services is that operators and content providers are lazy to develop and advertise these. Right now there can be very well working services such as remote control, network games with usage of GPRS or USSD, positioning based services (even for old phones with no map and GPS), on-line competitions and integration with different parts of popular WEB-portals.


The same lazy reason related to “easy use” in terms of easy to find, easy to understand, easy to estimate benefits, easy install and work with. Now almost all VASes have no unique standard, no common menu and no special dedication in terms of tariff. Whatever clever VAS you know is originated by 3-rd party provider (WEB-portal, security system developer and so on) with own interfaces and special tools. No unique standard means that

  • we have not so much services as not all providers willing to develop mobile (telecom) part
  • hard to install and use different tools and services
  • no centralized technical support and therefore there is an opinion that VAS is unstable way of IT services
  • no care of VAS like no special tariffs, no promotion, no developing – all these lead to the meaning that VAS is some useless way to spend money.

Then what shall marketing do? Interests can be raised by the following:

  • This can be something very well known, but presented differently. For example positioning service (GPS, A-GPS) when presented as service “which restaurants is near”.
  • Or known but promoted with extremely low price, when shifting view on a services. For example when price for MMS is same or cheaper than for SMS. Then people start use MMS and continue when price become normal. This can be advertised on sport competitions or parties and even can be charged by special tariff in the exact places.
  • Terminal Software for popular WEB-portals. Well known thing but now originated by operator with unique interface, technical support, special tariff and proper advertisement.
  • Terminal Software of the exact operator with easy find, install and pay options. It’s something like in iPhone, but related to the exact operator and for generic available platforms (Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android and so on). The idea is that subscriber can have access to VAS same easy as make a call or send SMS. In a future it even can be some unique world standard which producers of phones will do.
  • Whatever came from the world of PC and wide band Internet should be advertised as same stability and easy to use. Related to network gaming, mobile office, blogging, chatting.
  • Advertisement in general and special advertisement. VAS must be popularized to show that it’s easy and convenient. But even more - popularized exclusively. For example some music single distributed first time only by mobile music store. Want this single – have to understand and use VAS.



 


RESUME


Now you know the common information about VAS and it possible development.


Further I will show more ideas of exact services, technologies that can be used for VAS and ideas for thinking about possible future services, technologies and gadgets.


Separately from it there you also can find some analytic materials about VAS and telecommunications in general, lot of marketing and business development information which is useful for telecom.

 


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