Home Facebook Moves into New Territory and the Telcos Take Notice

Facebook Moves into New Territory and the Telcos Take Notice

The Facebook news yesterday about its new messaging platform is raising questions for the telecommunications giants about what they have to do in face of emerging competition from the social networks.

It’s a critical time for the telcos. All the attention has been on Facebook’s battle with Google. But there are many more providers that have a stake in how the Facebook service evolves.

It’s a logical conclusion that Facebook will extend its messaging platform to voice and other communications. That realization is forcing the telecommunications providers to respond. Facebook is moving into telco territory.

The timing could not be better for Broadvision, which introduced Clearvale Paasport last week. The service is built on Clearvale, the enterprise social networking service.

Clearvale Passport is a platform for telecommunications companies to offer email, IM, chat and other services.

Giovanni Rodriguez is chief marketing officer for Broadvision. He says the Facebook news reflects how communications are far more universal. Email is only part of the equation.

“It’s a wake up call for telcos and other service providers,” Rodriguez said. “The new UI is the social network, and `unified communications’ — an idea that telcos have been chasing for many, many years — is almost certainly going to happen on social networks. In the end, this is about who owns the customer experience. More and more, Facebook owns that experience, on the consumer side. But on the enterprise side, the market is wide open.”

Telecommunications company executives are adamant that they are not telephony companies. They call themselves communications providers.

But they have not shown the potential to innovate. They’ve lagged for years. Will it change now?

The least they can do is further open up its telephony platforms to third-parties.

“IP Telephony has become more and more commodity,” said Dimitri Sirota, co-founder of Layer 7 Technologies and now vice president of marketing and alliances.

Nevertheless telco’s have been slow to unbundle their telephony services to third parties. Twilio and similar companies are a reboot of the whole model. Take commodity telephony services and expose them to mobile and cloud developers as a services. This will matter because social networks will start overlapping with traditional telephony services. Facebook users will already soon be able to offer email. Why not voice, messaging etc. After all twitter started out as a SMS gateway service for the Web. Why can’t other telephony services jump the chasm to the Web?”
– Dimitri Sirota

Clearvale launched last spring. It is similar to services that we see in the market from companies such as Socialtext and Jive Software. All of these companies, including others such as Socialcast and Yammer, are positioned to service telecommunications providers.

Alcatel-Lucent is in the middle of the emerging telecommunications market. The goal is to match telecommunications companies with developers.

“It’s less about the telcos waking up, and more about telcos realizing the world around them doesn’t operate in a traditional .99999 manner,” said Mike Maney of Alcatel-Lucent. “It’s also app developers, which is what Facebook is at a very high level, realizing that they need to operate at a level above their .99 manner. Both are trying to figure out how they adapt, which is where we come in.”

The territories we once knew look far different than they did just a year ago. Facebook is having a lasting impact on the communications markets. Companies like Google are not Facebook’s only competitors. It’s really any communications company.

Facebook gets that. We’ll have to see how well the telcos understand that, too.

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