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VoLTE/Rich communications

IMS at the Heart of AT&T's Internet of Things

LAS VEGAS -- Super Mobility Week -- A dull-sounding, yet crucial network update is at the heart of AT&T's voice-over-LTE launches and its drive to add new services for connected cars and wearables.

AT&T is finally starting to deploy IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) routers in the field, which will open up how the carrier delivers communication services and what it can do with cars and other new devices on its network. Initially, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is launching VoLTE as it deploys the routers and tests that the network in a particular market can reliably fall back to 3G voice if needed, a vendor here at the show tells Light Reading.

Kris Rinne, senior vice president of network and product planning at AT&T, told Light Reading Tuesday that the VoLTE work started primarily in Chicago. AT&T said in May that it is launching VoLTE in selected areas of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (See AT&T's Rinne: Carriers Working on VoLTE Interoperability.)


Want to know more about 4G? Check out Light Reading's dedicated LTE channel.


The capabilities that IMS will enable for cars and wearables, however, are what have caught the attention of Chris Penrose, SVP of emerging devices at AT&T. "Our IMS core is going to enable really, really unique services like twinning."

"Twinning" enables calls and messages to a smartphone to be forwarded to an associated connected car or smart watch. It's not an entirely new concept: Desktop VOIP phone systems have used SIP trunking to link an IP address so that calls to the office can be forwarded to a user's cellphone for a while. IMS extends that concept down from the smartphone to the smart whatever.

"We think the twinning capability is really exciting," Penrose says.

The slow roll to VoLTE, twinning and other services is a timely reminder, however, of the gap between hype and actual real-world services you can use. Equipment vendors started banging on about the IP Multimedia Core Network Subsystem and the wonderful new world of rich communications it would open up years ago.

Light Reading first wrote about VoLTE in February 2010, with the service being described as being just around the corner back then. AT&T is just starting to offer the actual service now. (See MWC 2010: Verizon on Track for LTE in 2010.)

Today's lesson: It takes a long time for a massive carrier to fundamentally change the way it does anything, especially voice calls, on its network.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

DHagar 9/29/2014 | 1:44:38 PM
Re: Extinct nasimson, I'll buy that.  I agree with you and Dan - I do not think they will become "extinct", but maybe face the threat of becoming more irrelevant (just a commodity) with less revenue - if they do not remain competitive.
nasimson 9/27/2014 | 9:56:52 AM
Re: Extinct @DHagar: In counterpoint though, even in advanced mobile markets like Nordics, the Telcos have not disappeared although they are under pressure in terms of business model.
nasimson 9/18/2014 | 12:06:49 AM
Re: Extinct @DanJones: Your 30 dollars collected over a few years give me surety that the TIME is soon. It won't be long. Now Telcos are being attacked from a lot of industries.
DHagar 9/15/2014 | 12:39:50 PM
Re: Extinct Nasimson, I am with you.  They may have the networks, but if they do not stay relevent in the their service models and service packages, they can become dinosaurs - insulated from reality.
DHagar 9/15/2014 | 12:36:09 PM
Re: IMS at the Heart of AT&T's Internet of Things SachinEE, great stuff.  That should increase sales.
DanJones 9/15/2014 | 9:33:27 AM
Re: Extinct In counterpoint though, if I had a dollar for everytime someone told me that a new technology would make carriers extinct (WiFi etc.) I'd have, oh, at least 30 dollars. Hasn't happened yet, although it's always possible I suppose. Owning spectrum and a massively expensive yet hard to deploy network seems like a good bulwark against extinction though.
nasimson 9/14/2014 | 2:50:48 PM
Extinct > Today's lesson: It takes a long time for a massive carrier to fundamentally change the way it does anything, especially voice calls, on its network I hope some Telco CxOs are reading this. Telco dinosaurs can go extinct very soon due to disruptive models of the OTT providers like what's app and mobile OS providers like Android and IOS.
SachinEE 9/13/2014 | 2:57:21 PM
Re: IMS at the Heart of AT&T's Internet of Things If you are talking with someone on the phone on the way to your car, you can get inside it and direct the call as a bluetooth call, hands free with the hep of twinning. Not only that, this call will be network enabled which means that the call will take place even when it is going through tunnels.
DHagar 9/11/2014 | 3:52:10 PM
Re: IMS at the Heart of AT&T's Internet of Things Dan, that twinning does sound impressive. 

It is true that the technology can exist for a long time and it is often the applications that cause it to take off. 

Great info - you and Light Reading are keeping us on the cutting edge.
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