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Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty?

Eight months after SBC (AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)), BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), and Cingular Wireless chose Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) as their "IMS partner," sources say the "new AT&T" is testing IMS gear from other vendors to enable dualmode calling.

Lucent announced its IMS contract wins at the AT&T companies last October and November. (See Cingular Picks Lucent for IMS, SBC Picks Lucent's IMS , and BellSouth Picks Lucent for IMS.) AT&T says Lucent is still its main contractor and integrator for its IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network, but sources close to Lucent say the vendor doesn't yet have technology capable of initiating and orchestrating a dualmode phone call.

That's a troubling sign, given that dualmode calling, which would allow callers to switch seamlessly between cellular and WiFi networks, is among the first and most important FMC (fixed/mobile convergence) services that the new, consolidated AT&T is likely to launch. Indeed, AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth is primarily driven by a desire to leverage Cingular Wireless to launch such services.

The Lucent device that manages the handoff of calls between wired and wireless networks is called the "Lucent Feature Server." Other IMS elements like the call session control function (CSCF), home subscriber server (HSS), and media gateway control function (MGCF) also play roles in dualmode sessions; but those elements are used for numerous converged applications, not just dualmode service.

Sources haven't pinpointed where the specific technology problem lies, but AT&T and Cingular, they say, are now testing IMS technology from other vendors to initiate and manage dualmode calling.

“What we’re being told is that Lucent is not close to being ready to go to market with this stuff, particularly on the hand-over side,” says Sanjay Jhawar, marketing VP at BridgePort Networks Inc. , a Lucent competitor. (See BridgePort Touts IMS First.)

Jhawar says other suppliers including Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Nortel Networks Ltd. , and possibly others, are competing for second-supplier status at AT&T. BusinessEdge VOIP consultant Yaron Raps says he’s now providing consulting to some of the companies involved in trying to unseat different parts of Lucent's IMS solution. He adds that AT&T is now testing IMS technology from multiple vendors other than Lucent.

AT&T doesn’t deny working with other IMS vendors, but also won’t say if any IMS RFPs are still out there. “We are right now working in the labs looking at different IMS capabilities and services -- that’s a big focus for us right now,” says AT&T spokesman Wes Warnock. “We are working with Lucent on the IMS features, but beyond that I can’t comment."

Lucent spokesman Mike Alva says his company is working with AT&T but declined to comment further.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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goundan 12/5/2012 | 3:48:49 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? Incredible complexity my derriere! The stuff is not as complex as the vendors make it out to be. It is pretty easy and if you work at a carrier call in the folks at Motorola to give you a demo in Dualmode Mobility using IMS. The've tested out to be the best solution around for this kinda feature on IMS.

brookseven writes:
There is nothing that this service alone needs IMS for. IMS is one way of implementing the service.

alchemy replies:
...and an incredible amount of complexity. UMA, where legacy 2G signaling is encapsulated in IP, is much more straightforward to add to a 2G network. Pretty much any early adopter of dual mode handsets is going to deploy it this way.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:48:49 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? brookseven writes:
There is nothing that this service alone needs IMS for. IMS is one way of implementing the service.

...and an incredible amount of complexity. UMA, where legacy 2G signaling is encapsulated in IP, is much more straightforward to add to a 2G network. Pretty much any early adopter of dual mode handsets is going to deploy it this way.
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:48:49 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? Is dual-mode service emerging as the first "killer app" made possible by IMS?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:48:49 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty?
There is nothing that this service alone needs IMS for. IMS is one way of implementing the service.

seven
skinbop 12/5/2012 | 3:48:47 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? where did the term "dual mode" come from - isnt it a bit confusing? the industry doesn't need more duplicate terms, surely...
optodoofus 12/5/2012 | 3:48:46 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? Lucent unable to deliver on tehcnology promises? OK, who here is really surpsied by this.

Get used to it. There will be a steady stream of such stories over the next year as one Lucent IMS customer after another realizes that they bought a pig in a poke and need to find other vendors who can actually deliver.

Serge, hope you're paying attention here.

optodoofus
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:48:46 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? goundan writes:
Incredible complexity my derriere! The stuff is not as complex as the vendors make it out to be. It is pretty easy and if you work at a carrier call in the folks at Motorola to give you a demo in Dualmode Mobility using IMS. The've tested out to be the best solution around for this kinda feature on IMS.

Have you actually tried to read the 3GPP specs? Printed out, they must stack 10 feet tall. A dozen discrete boxes with even more moving-target interfaces.

Don't you have to live in some 3rd world hellhole like Bangladesh to actually use Motorola IMS product? I'd rather get my IMS demos from a company that can sell into the first world.
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:48:42 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? This story confines itself to the Lucent IMS gear that manages dual-mode calling. However, some of our sources spoke of the solution in a more all-inclusive way i.e. "the Lucent IMS solution isn't ready for deployment." We have heard that the Lucent HSS is strong, but what about other aspects of the portfolio -- the CSCF, for example? Anybody know?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:48:40 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? This goes to my thesis that "IMS will never ship". Not that LU can do R&D, but really, who else can do all the things service providers mway want IMS to do this week? What feature will be "enough"? When? If service providers are trying to copy the portals in innovation, this will never fly. It is physically impossible to update network architectures as fast as you can update a server.
SRSP 12/5/2012 | 3:48:39 AM
re: Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty? What's interesting is that Lucent is having difficulty with the big tier 1 cellular carriers. These carriers have no plans to deploy this type of service. It cannibalizes minutes off of their macro network and doesn't make business sense for them. So while Lucent is stuck catering to the big boys, its all the little telco/cable guys that really need the dual-mode functionality. So not only is Lucent screwing up and unable to deliver, they're trying with companies that in the end don't even want it.
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