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Not only is the telco industry gearing for transformation, but a number of players in the industry might even prove to be disruptive. ONEm is one such company and Telecom Review recently spoke with Christopher Richardson, CEO, about the company's value proposition, customer experience and how it could help operators compete with OTT.

What is ONEm's value proposition to the telecom industry and how does an operator benefit from what ONEm can offer?
Internet-based communication services present different challenges for mobile operators. It seems that the global internet structure benefits communication players (OTTs) that don't have the heavy investment in infrastructure that mobile operators do. As a result, OTTs can offer free services that are powered by the users' paid connection to the internet whether its fixed line or mobile data.

The majority of mobile operators will concur that this trend is impacting revenues in a negative way.

ONEm has created a technology and business model that mitigates this shortcoming through a unique membership-based ecosystem for mobile operators that enables them to enjoy advantages beyond the OTT's reach. ONEm capitalizes on the combined fundamental strengths of a private global data network and the mobile operator's voice and SMS network.

Aside from the ability to manage billions of user accounts, routing and handling traffic over a private network, ONEm provides sophisticated voice services such as group calls, call hunting, on-the-fly language translation and other services. ONEm makes SMS function like a modern messaging system with group, topic, history and search capabilities. ONEm also delivers to and from the internet content and services to voice and SMS.

The mobile operator's ONEm member community can buy various monthly subscriptions to access different services offered on ONEm's global network.

ONEm has the effect of generating new revenues as it creates new social communications and service use, attracts internet-based communications to the core network and has no effect on ordinary network traffic which is outside of the closed membership-based network.

Does ONEm require any investment (of time or money) on the subscriber's part? How will they be able to tell the difference, if at all? And how will they benefit?
The mobile operator already owns the necessary assets to deploy the ONEm service. Connection is simple and straightforward with traffic exchanged between ONEm through IP-based SIP and SMPP. ONEm is voice and SMS based any mobile device works without an APP or any modifications whatsoever. The learning curve for ONEm is non-existent. As long as a person can dial a number or send an SMS, they have all of the skills to master using the ONEm platform.

Users benefit in many ways. Firstly, they can experience unlimited global member to member communications over a high fidelity network that provides instantaneous connection with no false rings and crystal clear voice quality. ONEm has simple features to create one number conference calling, call hunting and on-the-fly language translation among many other voice services.

ONEm provides SMS messaging that has many sophisticated features such as group, topic, history and search capabilities. With inline commands, ONEm's SMS messaging can provide on-the-fly translation as well as sender receipts to know for fact about message delivery. Through the use of simple intuitive dialogs sent to one number that represents the ONEm compute platform, many unique services can be returned: calculations, conversions, wiki dialogs, entertainment, games, organization, utilities, etc.

Simply put, ONEm will have so many useful and easy to use services that it will become a necessity for any user to have, even if they have mobile data.

On whom does the burden of customer experience fall? And how can it be adequately managed?
ONEm is very easy to use. New members can either be automatically registered by their operator or they can do it themselves by sending 'r' in an SMS to the platform. They will receive their unique mID which is a 15 digit number that the user will own from then on out, like they would own an email address. With this mID, other users on the network can call or message them by dialing the mID over the ONEm network through a partner mobile operator.

The ONEm platform communicates over SMS and is very forgiving as it educates the user by anticipating the user's intensions, giving suggestions and options.

ONEm will also support the mobile operator with documentation both online and in printable format. How does ONEm compete with other services, including those offered by OTT players?
ONEm is not internet-based and is specifically created for mobile operators who deploy, price and control the service. OTT services are, for the most part, circumventing mobile operators that are buying last-leg minutes to carry internet traffic to mobile voice. In the long run this damages the mobile operator's business because it is not in sync with their business model.

ONEm does not connect to any party that is not a member and does not use the internet; therefore, we adhere to a principle that protects the mobile operator. In essence, ONEm is a proprietary closed network accessible only by mobile operators and only member to member; therefore, there is no circumvention and all partner mobile operators are protected from circumvention.

How has the response to ONEm been so far globally, and specifically, in the Middle East as well?
ONEm is getting a great response from mobile operators when we have a chance to present directly to decision-makers. When mobile operators understand the business model and the benefits, they are very much in favor of ONEm.

It has only been three months since we started discussions with mobile operators at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and we have 20 sizable operators signed up for trials. We are also talking at group level with great uptake. In the Middle East, we have very good traction from mobile operators that are being impacted with OTTs. It is not easy to reach the appropriate levels in every organization and this is where we are focusing.

We have opened an office in Dubai Silicon Oasis that is helping us to reach out to operators in the region, Africa and Asia. Soon we expect a big operator in the GCC to sign up for trials with ONEm and after that, we should see others joining to add to the strength of the combined global network.

Ultimately, we create positive revenue benefits for all mobile operators and ultimately will be bringing back to their core network communications, which is trending to go to the internet.

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