Ericsson, Telefonica and Samsung want to make phone calls interactive with 5G

Kit vendor Ericsson, MNO Telefonica and tech giant Samsung have collaborated on a proof of concept project which apparently allows more ‘remote interaction’ on phone calls through 5G.

The release describes an interactive phone call as an ‘addition of real-time, remote interaction between people and things, through a regular mobile phone call’ – which broadly seems to mean phone calls that are more than just about voice.

This apparently can involve things like screen sharing, gaming, AR, or inputting information while on hold to customer services. It’s described as a ‘shared vision for a 5G connected world’ where other ways of interacting or collaborating are built in to a regular voice call –  removing the need for ‘separate apps that have to be downloaded, maintained and secured.’

“We are constantly working on developing new 5G innovations and future communication services are a priority area for us in 5G,” said Cayetano Carbajo, Director at Telefonica CTIO. “We are now co-developing and testing 5G interactive calling together with Ericsson and Samsung, among other partners. This could bring new capabilities to 5G voice calls in the future which will benefit our consumer and enterprise customers.”

David Bjore, Head of Solution Area Communication Services at Ericsson added: “We have during the past years been working on bringing voice services to the 5G era, by building a new 5G 3GPP-standards-based technology enabler, IMS data channel, which could be used for many different types of real-time interactive voice services in the future. With this proof-of-concept together with Telefónica and Samsung, the next major milestone has been achieved by showcasing the technology and example use cases on 5G smartphones.”

Demonstrations of a few use cases around this concept will be shown at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week. As alluded to in the description, the idea is functionality that is currently available through apps could be in some way handled directly within a 5G call – which does rather lean on the assumption that using apps is somehow a problem for users. Apps are basically the entire point of a smartphone, but the release seems to assert they are some sort of shackle that 5G can unburden customers from.

The move can probably be categorised as another attempt to explain what it is exactly 5G enabled phones can do that 4G ones can’t, which has proven particularly difficult thing to do convincingly on the consumer side. But leaving the notion that apps are somehow something to be overcome aside, if ‘interactive calls’ can genuinely be demonstrated to work well then who knows, perhaps there will be an evolution of the standard phone call towards something more than just talking. And it probably makes a bit more sense than trying to sell 5G enabled 4k streaming to small mobile phone screens, the benefits of which could be argued as being imperceptible to the human eye.

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