Media servers play an important role in enabling many of the real-time communications applications many of us use every day. When you retrieve a voice mail, have an email read back to you while in the car or get on a conference call, a media server is involved. Media servers provide the back-end voice and/or video transcoding to/from different networks or to/from different endpoints, play/record, mixing of voice and/or video into mashups or conferences, echo cancellation, text to speech and speech to text, text/picture overlay and simple digit detection to name some of the functions of a media server.

In other words, they enable interactive communication applications. These “mobile value added services” account for billions of dollars of service provider revenue. While some OTT apps are eating into certain applications, such as Short Message Services (SMS), there are still many real-time telco applications that are revenue generating, or have the potential to be revenue generating, out there. Add into the mix the speed of the LTE network and the potential of WebRTC (which can more easily enable a web-based voice and/or video call to occur), the possibilities are enormous. Beyond being value-added from a revenue perspective, they are also “value added” because subscribers associate them with the service provider and therefore these useful and interesting and cool applications could both reduce subscriber churn and increase subscribers. Because of this, the media server role in the network is becoming increasingly more important.

 Next week I will introduce the concept of SmartPhoneMan, who will go through a typical day using his smartphone all the while interacting with media servers.