Telecom Italia, Italtel bring Second Life to life
By Mary Lennighan, Total Telecom, in Berlin
08 October 2007
Italian incumbent deploys vendor's latest software offering to enable voice calls between Avatars in online virtual world.
As consumers increasingly choose the Internet over the TV for entertainment, there is a role for telecoms operators to play in the world of Web 2.0.
Telecom Italia, for example, is embracing Second Life by enabling real voice communications between Avatars in the online world.
"You can phone another Avatar. Your real number remains hidden," said Italtel CEO Giorgio Bertolina.
He added that users' real voices are heard, but stressed that no personal details are disclosed.
To make the service possible the Italian incumbent has deployed Italtel's newest software product, The Service Box (TSB), which is designed to make communications services – including voice, instant messaging, location-based services, presence, address book, and others – available across multiple devices, irrespective of the network type.
Italtel declined to name the other service providers that are in the process of deploying the TSB, but disclosed to Total Telecom that another European carrier is planning to provide it to consumer users to enable portal-based integrated communications.
One of the key issues for service providers in Europe at the moment is the move away from a vertical approach, in which each service is "supported by a specific network and specific devices," towards an integrated model, explained Bertonlina.
And this includes the evolution of customer behaviour.
"TV is losing ground in favour of the Internet... [because of] the freedom the Internet gives people to decide what they want to do," said Bertolina. "You become a participant."
Furthermore, device manufacturers are moving towards providing and supporting content, he added, prime examples being Apple, with its iTunes service, and Nokia's Ovi.
"A new phenomenon is happening," said Bertolina. It is good for end-users, "but it's a big risk for the service providers."