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UNIVERSAL CONTENT SERVER (UCS) IN DETAILS

IDEA


Universal Content Server is IP based telecom database with rules for content import and modification, content storage, content distribution and content representation. The function of it is to provide universal interface or “engine” for various content storage servers. In result we have various content providers, which work for the exact operator on this operator’s UCS and therefore there is unique format for each data type, unique rules of data delivery, data management and project administration, plus there is pre-defined mechanism for data representation on users’ terminals.


Idea is that operator (or content provider in some cases) has only once to invest in service engine and then reduce costs using unification of services and reuse of the platform. Same economy is for 3rd party content providers – they only need to format new content to one unique format, while administrative rules, delivery mechanism, content management and billing are remaining always the same. And finally this is convenient for the subscribers as they have well known typical interface with similar logic in it menu.



Notice: UCS system is supposed to be developed for All-IP environment as IP communications make it real to develop commercially available system with adequate price. In general it is quite similar to Enterprise WEB Server with similar costs and human resources for such server development is more less same type IT employees as for WEB. If use set of present telecom protocols which includes various analogue links, digital links, international protocols for different network types and regional additions to these protocols, then we have slowly working platform, which need several racks and price of it can be even 10 times more than if use IP and the same price level for this system installation and maintenance.


TECHNICAL


Let’s have a closer look on the server functionality in details.


Notice: Whenever below is mentioned GPRS it can be changed to any available operator’s IP access – EDGE, WiFi, WiMAX, EV-DO, HSPA and so on.


Interface of UCS with content storages:

  • Limitation of data formats to process by the server. For example, UCS accepts only the following – music is the only MP3 and MIDI, video is the only MPG4, pictures is the only GIF and JPEG, text is the only in Microsoft CP plain text.
  • And limitation for the exact format. For example – MP3 is 128 Kbps or worse, file size limit – 10 Mb and similar for other files types.
  • Limitations of interaction protocols with the server. For example only FTP and UDP is available.
  • Formalized set of commands for signaling among UCS and content storage. UCS has some set of commands and do not understand any except these. Content storage should use only these commands (all off them or part, depending from service).
  • Formalized interface of logging and billing. For example – one text file per hour for each data storage, division symbol is “/”, access mode – by FTP. General idea is that once this format is programmed by data storage company then no need to invest more in it.


Processing within UCS:

  • Interact with data storages in client-server mode as server. There are commands send/receive, protocols negotiations, content download, billing files creation and operations logging.
  • Interact with user’s device including data format conversion, content delivery, logging and billing.
  • Optimize data format for mobile terminal. If there is an information available about mobile terminal (cellular phone) like - screen size in pixels and bits of color, available sound and video codecs, operating system, java version and so on, then UCS can optimize content before sending out to the exact subscriber.
  • Generating of log files and billing files and managing access to these.
  • Content management system oriented to generic PC user (wysiwyg). This system includes also WEB/WAP page management and advertisement management.

Interaction with mobile terminal:

  • Manage user’s menu in terminal. Here included new menu items upload and advertisement upload. For that purpose can be used USSD or IP over GPRS. If USSD – then free for user by default, but if use IP – must be some marking in billing system that traffic is free.
  • Process user’s operations – orders, searches, purchases, balance status and so on. For that purpose can be used too - USSD or IP over GPRS, but preferably to use only IP as it’s actions of user and he should pay some money for generated traffic.
  • Upload content to user terminal. IP connection over GPRS or similar.
  • Provide easy identification and access to online IP services. IP connection over GPRS or similar.

 


Mobile terminal software:

  • Depending on mobile it can be internal binary application, Mobile OS application or JAVA program. Main idea is that this is some always-on-phone menu which has user friendly interface and no need IT knowledge for installation and usage.
  • Menu includes different main topics like GAMES, SOFTWARE, VIDEO, MUSIC, NEWS, WEATHER, CURRENCY RATES, CHATS, BLOGS and some other, depending on the market. But it’s better to have 10 to 20 menu items. If less than 10, then this system do not looks like universal, if more than 20, then system become too complicated.
  • Then another important global menu item – “DOWNLOADED CONTENT” where inside is the same topics as in the previous bullet. This is a kind of downloaded content manager.
  • In addition to main menu items there are placed also advertisement text line, search field and account info menu item.
  • Another important notice is that all program elements are loaded together with local terminal software. It means that all menu effects, typical pictures and animations, sounds of actions and so on are loaded when installing software on terminal. Communication with UCS is dove with short text codes of all this pictures, sounds and effects and there is no upload of such content. Idea is that menu is a quick thing from operations point of view, whether it’s online menu. When we make terminal software release upgrade – then it’s possible to change all this mentioned content.

USER


For the subscribers this service must be represented as some inherent feature of the phone. It is not something like WAP homepage or accessed with complicated combination of buttons. It must be the same easy to use as go to change ring-tone or get access to calculator.


The way of work will be like this:

  • The user goes to menu of this program and search what he need. This is almost all local, except downloading some additional menu items. This is quick and free of charge.
  • Along with menu items there is advertisement line and search field. For whatever user is come – there is always an opportunity for easy search (no need go to WAP search portal) and interesting offers in advertisement (which is almost loaded quick with no pay for traffic and took not so much space on a screen).

  • Reasons why user frequently run this program can be the following:

    • quick, easy and cheap search in internet (plain text information with some codes is transferred from UCS server and then formatting to convenient view – less traffic, more quickly)
    • check account balance (easy menu instead of complicated codes like *100#)
    • get information such as weather forecast or currencies rates (almost free as plain text request and answer is just a matter of several tens bytes)
    • to see announcement of news

Notice: In fact there can be subscription fee in the future, when system will be popular, but anyway, even now, subscriber pays for IP traffic.



Key feature for this service is that for mass present phones there is exact software client is. If we have latest smartphone with VGA screen then distributive has (for menu items) good big pictures, good stereo sounds, some effects based on JAVA or OS properties, but if we have some old B&W phone, then we have small B&W icons, few beep souns and no animations for menu items. But functionality of the program must be the same, in general!


There is good additional feature to do is to check (if possible) and then offer user to confirm system parameters and then send this information to UCS server. Surely some global differences is determined by distributive, but some details like screen size in pixels or depth of colors is better send to server. Then it’s possible to optimize content on a server, which gives several advantages – saving traffic and waiting time and increase subscribers’ loyalty due to perfect quality of content.


The scope of possible devices can be like this – Windows Mobile of all versions, with and without touch screen, for QVGA and VGA screen; The same for Symbian, Android and other mobile OS and finally for JAVA; Then it can be done as binary software for some exact popular phones without mobile OS and JAVA. Surely there will be limited access to video and software for old phones, as it’s completely impossible to convert such a content for very old systems, but for pictures and sounds there is still an opportunity.

One important notice: This UCS terminal software is in fact can be a good manager for all communication types in device. WiFi, GPRS, Bluetooth, IrDA, NFC and information like e-mail or WEB-page address – all that information can be stored for easy access and search, appointed to some records in phonebook or to some programs on device. What is separate at present time, can be combined using such program as UCS client!
Why to do this? It brings much more then it seems at first sight! To manage all the available communications will generate new style of life for users and additional income for operators. Further I will show some examples of business cases, based on this feature.


DEVELOPMENT


There is a big administrative issue – to coordinate core equipment vendors, gadgets/phones vendors, main content providers and internal IT&Core resources. I will repeat that idea that if you (as operator) leading development then main income is yours and later you can connect more services and whatever you want to connect. If situation is remaining the same, when market leaders is several content providers and main players for infrastructure equipment supply are companies which main business is OSS or Billing, then we have very weak market in general and profit of an operator is almost negligible.


The task of an operator is to develop general strategy and technical case for the solution and then ask other parties to develop additions to their existing products. Other parties are producers of IN and VAS platforms, specific IN and VAS software, service/content providers and finally producers of mobile phones.


There is a new thing, that operators start earn good money on content, what is not the statement now. Same time there is one important thing to understand – by developing and implementing of UCS, everybody wins! It must be clear for every party including pretended leaders of the content market!


Let’s look in details:

  • Users get more convenient service and it’s cheaper than using WAP. Plus there is access unification to various services – once you understood how to use, then no need to study again for new services.
  • Producers of the phones (smartphones, PDAs and other similar gadgets) are earning money when offer same phones for all budgets, but with some UCS dedicated improvements and sticker like “UCS Ready!”.
  • Producers of content will be sell their content in tens times more as with UCS we have terminal content manager as inherent property of a mobile phone.
  • Producers of equipment have to spend a bit to develop some UCS features requested by big operators (for example like Vodafone or Orange) but then increase sells by thousands of percents. First – sell more equipment because big operators have more users for content and VAS and then without development sell the same to regional operators.

 

 

Finally let’s examine one example – SMS Server (or SMS Center). This is some generic product now with very well cross-compatibility. It’s produces by vendors of switching systems, vendors of IT platforms, vendors of OSS and Billing systems. SMS server of one producer easily interact within core network of the other equipment producer and can be easily connected to SMS server of other producer.


All clear and all simple! The target of UCS development is to have the same solutions from vendors. The difference is only this – unification and cross-compatibility of SMS Servers are limited by simple functionality of processing SMS, but for UCS these unification and cross-compatibility should be lead by big operators’ technical cases, as functionality is not simple and may lead to elimination of necessary level of unification and cross-compatibility.


MARKETING


What we have in marketing? All the things that now we have for VAS but always mentioning that now you can do it using your UCS phone client.


Let’s look on the market opportunities which are in some statement already presented on the market. For the time being will keep calling UCS as UCS and UCS terminal client as UCS client, whether the real market name of the service can be other.

  • Search in Internet – use UCS client. Easier and cheaper.
  • Check the balance – use UCS client. No need to call to voice informatory or send some commands like *102#.
  • Transfer money from your account to your friend’s account – very easy with UCS!
  • Get software – use UCS to get or to search. Then easily pay by one click using your mobile phone account.
  • Get games – same to software, plus access to additional stages and network gaming within the same UCS client.
  • Get media content (pictures, music, video) – use UCS to get or to search. Same easy payment method, easy search and price the same as of content providers or cheaper (as there is bigger gross purchase from copyrights owners and not too much spends on advertisement).
  • Want some free or discounted software/games/media? Trace advertisements (running text line) in your UCS client! Or visit special menu item “FREE&DISCOUNTED”. The rest is the same as for generic media content above.
  • Have blog? Add articles from UCS client. Whether in fact is some separate software but for the user it’s look like go to main menu of UCS client, then go to “Blogs” menu items, then go to “blog on blog.com” menu item, then go to “add new article” menu item. After that UCS client runs blog dedicated software with command line parameters about which blog and what to do.
  • Want share photo or own music? Use UCS the same as for blogs.
  • Read news? – Announcements are in UCS!
  • SMS-chat on TV or Charge-SMS for some community oriented WEB-site? Use UCS client for that! No need complicated codes like – “send 123+1234567+098 to the number 88999”. Always know price and additional info!
  • Subscribe to news or buy e-book? Answer is the same – go to content store via UCS client, then search and payment will be much easier!


RESUME


The Resume is simple – than early operators start to develop UCS than early they start to earn money on VAS. Until this development – others are earning money and even more – it’s possible to say that no one earning money as this market now is just several percents from this potential volume.


When the access to VAS will become same easy as make a call or send an SMS, then VAS is being mass. With present administrative system it’s hard to imagine that third party content provider’s service will be inherent part of mobile phone menu. Alternative is that operators have to develop VAS and it’s not only question of administrative rules, but the question – who will earn billions of euros?!


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