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Optical/IP

Juniper, NEC Converge

Diving deeper into the fixed/mobile convergence infrastructure market, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) will partner with NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) on FMC systems for carriers, the companies said this morning.

Juniper says that it is collaborating with NEC to develop IMS/FMC systems for service providers that are "intelligent, secure, and open." Initially this means that NEC will be able to offer customers Juniper's various routers, SDX-300 service deployment platform, and ISG Firewall/VPN appliances.

The pair are also working on control interfaces between their separate boxes. Juniper says that this work will be based on open interfaces.

The aim of the partnership is to allow carriers to add more services without having to drastically rework their network each time. "They want to sell new services to the same subscribers," Chandra Tekwani, VP of mobile and IMS/FMC at Juniper, says of the carriers. "They don't want to put a new network in place to do that."

Once a common IP backbone is in place, Juniper says, operators can rapidly deploy new services by adding new products to their IMS/FMC network to support that service while incurring only small incremental expenses in the process.

Juniper predicts that operators will spend $3.6 billion on FMC infrastructure over the next three years. Tekwani currently sees the major rival for the partnership in this space as Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA).

Like others in the industry, Juniper is betting that the cellular industry will move to IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) over time. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standard lays down a route for operators to deploy a wireless system that is much more IP-based than today's cellular networks. Voice services would be handled via a SIP-based VOIP setup. In theory at least, IMS will also allow users to access their services when they roam off their home network.

Delivering IP services across different networks, however, will present its own set of challenges. Questions about everything from the bandwidth required to deploy VOIP over IMS to concerns about finding revenue generating services to run on the IP networks remain. (See From Closed to Open Mobile Networks, Crunch Time for IMS, and IMS – Who's Got Apps?.)

Asia appears to be leading the way with early FMC/IMS deployments, and this is definitely one of the key markets being initially targeted by the Juniper-NEC partnership. Tekwani says that Juniper will target both fixed and wireless operators.

Juniper has used the partnership route to get into new areas of the cellular market before. For a time, the vendor developed and sold the J20 wireless router in partnership with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC). (See Juniper Jumps Off J20.) Tekwani says that Juniper plans to work with others in the fixed/mobile convergence market but he isn't naming names yet.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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