Nokia Claims Intelligence
Essentially, this is a suite of software that carriers can use to upgrade their existing core IP networks with “service aware” intelligence, allowing them to roll out fancy new IP applications and bill for them -- as easy as yksi, kaksi, kolme, Nokia says.
Initially, the Intelligent Edge will be used to roll out applications on wireless networks, allowing carriers to provide services such as push-to-talk across their present GPRS, and soon-to-be-deployed EDGE, networks (see Vendors Push Carrier Upgrades). Eventually, the same capabilities will find a place on terrestrial networks, also, Nokia says, allowing carriers to build networks that can offer full end-to-end, real-time IP services, including voice and a host of multimedia services.
Is there a timescale for that? "Full voice-over-IP capabilities will depend largely on the availability of SIP [session initiation protocol] terminals that can set up a dedicated IP session across the network, and we don't publish a timetable for that development," says Dr. J.T. Bergqvist, senior vice president and general manager, IP Mobility Networks, at Nokia Networks.
Nokia says its product's "service aware" capabilities are based on an agreed industry standard called the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), as defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an industry standards body. The software to enable the Intelligent Edge will be commercially available in the second half of 2003.
It all sounds splendid, but as several attendees to the GSM event today pointed out, Nokia hardly has a rich heritage in IP developments.
"An IP heritage is not necessary," retorts Bergqvist.
Lucky really, given Nokia’s track record in the IP arena. In 1997 it disappointed many by rescuing the annoying Ipsilon Networks from the reaper's sickle for $120 million -- a move that prompted wiseacres to question whether there was a word for “due diligence” in the Finnish language. Since then it also tripped over its floppy Nordic clown shoes with the ill-starred purchase of Amber Networks (see Nokia Kills Amber Router). None of this seemed to dampen Bergqvist’s enthusiasm. "This is the first major step towards a next-generation control mechanism that will involve replacing the switching fabrics of networks," he says. [Ed. note: Did he happen to mention whether it would also cause a rift in the space-time continuum?]
As Unstrung went to press, analysts were still poring over Nokia's news to determine whether this was a key step forward towards functioning commercial IP services across networks. Yksi, kaksi, kolme...
— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung