Carriers have remained on the outside of the picture as data network providers rather than the producers of popular mobile apps for messaging and sharing content, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, an agreement signed today between Jibe Mobile and MetroPCS exemplifies one way they aspire to become more central participants.
Jibe, a cloud-based platform provider for audio, video, and chat services has added MetroPCS as the newest carrier to use its services. The deal stems from both businesses’ participation in joyn, a mobile operator association-backed project to encourage cross-platform “rich communication services.” The first fruits of the new agreement, which will include MetroPCS’s footprint in the United States, are scheduled to go live later this year.
MetroPCS is the fifth-largest mobile carrier in the United States, with 8.9 million subscribers, but a prospective merger with T-might Mobile’s boosted the number of consumers who could access this service by 33.2 million: On March 28, MetroPCS shareholders are anticipated to vote for or against the merger.
Jibe Mobile raised an $8.3 million round led by carrier Vodafone in December 2012 to build its platform and begin signing up consumers. MetroPCS appears to be the first announced customer since then.
Deals like this are, in some ways, about bringing carriers up to speed with how consumers are already communicating. When we use Facebook on our phones, we don’t consider whether our friends are on the same mobile network before sharing a picture or video with them or instant messaging them.
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Joyn allows carriers to provide those services to their consumers while also going one step further by making them something that can be incorporated throughout the device and used anywhere a client desires.
“MetroPCS’ adoption of Jibe Mobile is a significant step forward in advancing our commitment to helping bridge the worlds of traditional standards-based telecommunications and Silicon Valley-style rapid application development to allow carriers and developers to connect, and ultimately enhance, the experience of the mobile consumer and business subscribers around the world,” said Amir Sarhangi, CEO of Jibe Mobile.
Last year, MetroPCS claimed to be the first carrier to deliver RCS 5.0 (rich communication services) on its LTE network, thanks to joyn certification. While some of Jibe’s service functionality will be hosted in the cloud, customers must download a client app to their device — be it a phone, tablet, or PC — for it to function. Users then invite others to download the app and use it, like with other apps that offer social communications. Those communications services can then be integrated and supplied on other content and apps on the device, depending on what the carrier decides to deploy.
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“Our goal with joyn by MetroPCS was to give consumers a new intuitive and unified communications experience, and we are excited about the potential that now exists, through Jibe, for subscribers outside the MetroPCS network to adopt and experience the full range of features and services made possible by RCS,” MetroPCS CEO and Chairman Roger Linquist said in a statement. “We are dedicated to collaborating with operators and over-the-top providers to illustrate the benefits of joyn, assure real interoperability from any device and carrier, and ultimately see mainstream adoption of RCS services on a scale comparable to SMS or text services.”
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