Andrew Sviridenko is the Founder and Chairman of SPIRIT a developer of Voice and Video over IP software; he has more than 17 years' experience in the international software business. Mr. Sviridenko is also founder and chairman of SeeStorm.com, a technology pioneer in 3D video software, and VideoMost.com, a multi-point, video-web-conferencing service, and a key shareholder of other technology start-ups. Andrew Sviridenko graduated with honours from the Computer Science Department of Moscow State University.
Competition from IP-based phone services, Skype for one, is starting to force incumbent operators to offer higher quality IP-based services to protect their traditional revenues. In South Korea this process is quite advanced; the major carriers are now offering inexpensive VoIP and video to consumers and enterprises alike. Their strategy is to offer higher quality services than the public Internet-based VoIP or OTT video provides. Operators are offering carrier-grade quality to enterprise customers ready to pay for the quality they need
Carrier IP services in South Korea by Andrew Sviridenko, Chairman and Founder, SPIRIT DSP Voice and video over IP With the FCC’s positive decision on net neutrality, popular VoIP providers like Google, Cisco-WebEx, Skype and Microsoft are quickly gaining market share competing against traditional telecom operators in the US, Europe and Asia. Now, carriers striving to protect their lucrative traditional minutes business must offer IP communication services to remain competitive. The way for carriers to differentiate themselves is by offering a quality IP communication experience for voice and video. The quality for VoIP calls must be at least as good as a PSTN call and with HD voice, the VoIP quality is indeed much better than a PSTN call. As for video calling over IP, most of today's video web conferencing providers, like Cisco, WebEx, Adobe and Microsoft, charge significant monthly fees for their service and compete with traditional telecom operators. By licensing a while-labelled, multi-point video web conferencing solution, carriers can offer their own branded IP communication services and satisfy the growing need for quality IP communications, while increasing ARPU and maintaining customer loyalty. The South Korean market South Korea is one of the most innovative and progressive telecommunication markets in the world. IP communications in South Korea has always experienced a higher level of uptake, compared to the U.S. and other markets, quickly reaching mainstream and replacing traditional PSTN. Deregulation, liberalization and privatization of the nation's telecommunications industry has led to a booming telecom market, particularly in the development of mobile Digital Multimedia Broadcasting, the launch of WiBro, a South Korean standard for wireless broadband, services and the upgrades of 3G networks using HSDPA and HSUPA protocols. The Korean VoIP market is predicted to reach US$1,180 billion in 2012, with a 34.8 percent CAGR, according to market forecasts by research firm IDC Korea. Today, KT is South Korea's top fixed-line operator and the number two mobile carrier in the region. Other service providers competing with KT on the Korean market are SK Telecom and LG Telecom (now LG U+). How do these companies benefit from offering high-quality IP communication services powered by a carrier-grade voice and video engine? LG - IP calling for consumers LG U+, a leading South Korean telecom carrier, is pursuing the low-cost consumer VoIP segment with cheap PC2PC and PC2PSTN calls. Together with NHN Corporation, the owner of Naver - Korea’s most popular Web portal with over 17 million visitors and over 1 billion page views per day, and the world's largest ISP - LG U+ actively supports and promotes the Naver softphone service, which enables P2P and multi-user conferencing calls. However, even with low-cost VoIP, LG’s subscribers expect voice quality to be at the same level or better a PSTN phone call. Cheap rates alone cannot make VoIP service popular, when sound is bad. The Naver softphone at the core is a voice engine that mitigates quality issues caused by packet transmission over the Internet. The highly optimized voice engine effectively resolves most common problems of IP communications including acoustic echo, jitter and packet loss, allowing LG softphone users to appreciate high quality communications. KT - services over IP KT is a Korean industry giant controlling more than 90 percent of the country's fixed-line subscribers and leading the VoIP expansion. KT's SoIP (services over IP) integrates voice and video calling with data plans and is marketed as a premium service. KT, together with Reigncom, became the ‘founding fathers’ of a brand new consumer device called the Wave Home media phone. The Wave Home, designed to replace the traditional phone, marries a phone with an Internet terminal for immediate access to various Internet services. To accomplish this, KT has to deliver a calling experience with the same, or better, quality than a PSTN call. The Wave Home is integrated into a user's home network, so voice and video calls are transferred via the same Internet connection, along with movie downloads, online games and torrents, which means voice and video traffic wanders through common unmanaged local networks. iRiver Wave Home Media Phone KT - IPTV and Video Conferencing IP services come to full blossom on the big screen in the home, giving subscribers the option to multitask, make voice and video calls, share videos/pictures, play games, chat with neighbours, order pizza, etc. - all while watching TV. Legacy set-top boxes support a limited range of interactive services, such as VoD (video on demand), PVRs (personal video recorders) and EPGs (electronic programme guides), as they lack real-time, two-way communication features. Innovative IP-enabled set-top boxes, on the contrary, can support interactive applications. Developing the set-top box for KT's IPTV service, Kaon Media integrated carrier-grade voice and video engine to add quality video calling on top of the TV broadcast. Kaon Media's IP set-top boxes overcome quality degradations caused by IP networks securing continuous high-quality video without broken pictures or other artifacts. KT - enterprise mobility services Looking to attract the enterprise mobility market, KT launched a WiBro network in 2006 (WiBro is the Korean version of Mobile WiMAX). IDC Korea forecasted that WiBro will reach 1.4 million subscribers in 2010. WiBro allows users to move between cells without connectivity breaks, offering a great fit for enterprises with geographically distributed employees. An IP-based WiBro service allows users to make voice and video calls through an enterprise PBX using a softphone application. To achieve acceptance and popularity of the service with enterprise customers, KT set strict requirements for terminals, with a special emphasis on VoIP call quality. KT's enterprise mobility soft-client, built by Nable Communications, works on terminals of major WiBro handset manufacturers, including LG and Samsung, and delivers uninterrupted high quality, real-time voice and video over wireless networks. KT - enterprise IP-Centrex service VoIP is opening new opportunities for the enterprise market. Forrester Research predicts that by 2015, 95 percent of the world's enterprise voice calls will be VoIP-based. However, the fastest growing VoIP market is ‘hosted IP voice’ or ‘IP Centrex’, predicted to reach more than US$7.6 USD billion by the end of 2010. KT’s enterprise IP-Centrex service handles the incoming and outgoing calls of its corporate customers, routing them cheaply through KT’s own data network. The service allows enterprise customers to stay always connected while on the go. The employees can accept or initiate calls from their softphone in various communication scenarios: PC to PC, PC to public telephone systems, PC to mobile, etc. Businesses have stricter quality requirements than consumers, so quality is the major differentiator with enterprise IP communications. However, since they rely on old voice codecs that were not designed for IP networks, soft-switches alone cannot guarantee high voice quality. By using a carrier-grade voice and video engine KT has ensured high quality communication for its customers. KT’s strategy calls for deep penetration into the fixed-mobile convergence market. KT considers multiplatform IP calling a must-have service, so they have structured a universal service that allows subscribers to call over mobile IP networks. The service is designed to run on both custom KT handsets produced by KT Tech and a number of popular handsets from Tier 1 OEMs. Like the unmanaged public Internet, carriers’ networks - including all-IP infrastructures - suffer from packet loss, jitter and congestion. Aware of these challenges, KT turned to a multi-platform software media processing solution to guarantee carrier-grade voice communication in wireless networks. ________________________________ Every IP communication strategy needs a carrier-grade smart voice and video engine. Quality of service has become a major differentiator and a major influencing factor for a user to purchase IP-based communication services. Users are hot for new features available with voice and video over IP, but they are unwilling to accept lower quality than that of a traditional PSTN. To deliver high quality IP communication services to subscribers, carriers should rely on “smart” carrier-grade voice and video engines that address all issues inherent in IP networks. Particularly in the enterprise-focused market where quality is a major priority, multi-point video over IP conferencing allows carriers to monetize this service and add new and lucrative revenue streams, unlike inexpensive VoIP.