Crunch Time for IMS

Analyst says next 12 months will be critical to the credibility and true potential of IMS

November 30, 2005

4 Min Read
Crunch Time for IMS

The next 12 months will be critical for the future of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), as carriers begin to deploy IMS-specific systems and determine whether it can deliver on its promises, says Heavy Reading analyst Graham Finnie.

Finnie, who will chair IMS: Blueprint for an Applications Revolution. a one-day conference in London on Thursday, December 8, says the next 12 months "will see some major IMS contracts being awarded and deployments starting, and that's when the deployment issues will start to emerge."

Finnie notes that a number of carriers, as well as a host of vendors, have latched onto IMS because "it appears to offer a more flexible vehicle for quickly deploying new revenue-generating applications in the network as traditional service revenues tail off. Carriers need to find new ways of making money to get them out of a hole, as they're currently wondering where their money is going to come from in the future. In principle, IMS will make it easier and cheaper to develop and deploy new services." (See IMS Guide and Urgence and Convergence.)

He adds: "It's still early days for IMS at the moment, and we'll be looking at the prospects for real carrier deployments during next week's event. I'm sure, though, that during the coming year we'll be able to determine whether IMS is the service development nirvana some believe it to be, or whether it's just another over-hyped acronym."

In theory, an IMS core network allows a service provider to deliver identical IP services to fixed and mobile customers, whether the final connection is a switched or circuit network. As a result, it is seen as a cornerstone of carriers' fixed/mobile convergence strategies.

Among the speakers presenting at next week's event are two carriers that plan to put IMS at the heart of their next-generation service plans. Malcolm Wardlaw, vice president of Mobility, Intelligence & Applications at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) will unveil the U.K. incumbent's approach to IMS deployments, while Stefano Cantarelli, CTO at Bulldog Communications Ltd., part of BT rival Cable & Wireless plc (NYSE: CWP), will provide a competitive carrier's perspective.

"Most of the talk to date has been about how the large, incumbent, fixed and mobile operators can benefit from IMS, but it's equally as important to competitive and alternative carriers," says Finnie. "It'll be interesting to compare the views of BT and Bulldog, which is not the incumbent and which is focused on fixed broadband services."

Vendors with IMS propositions, including Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY), NetCentrex SA, NewStep Networks Inc., Siemens Communications Group, and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), will also be presenting at the conference.

Ericsson, along with Lucent, has made a flying start in terms of carrier customer announcements, and added another notch to its IMS bedpost today by announcing the deployment of its softswitch technology, and IMS trials, at SunCom Wireless, which operates in the southeast U.S. (See SunCom Picks Ericsson ).

The Swedish vendor has previously named a host of Tier 1 carriers as IMS system customers, including TDC A/S (Copenhagen: TDC), Telefónica SA, Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S). Light Reading believes it has also signed up France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE). (See Ericsson Provides IMS to Telefónica , Ericsson, Broadsoft Snack on Danish, Ericsson Grabs Sprint IMS Win, Telecom Italia Picks Ericsson for IMS, and FT Picks Ericsson for IMS.)

Ericsson is also the principle supplier of IP service creation and management capabilities to BT for its next-gen network. (See Ericsson to Bring Partners to 21CN Party.) Lucent, meanwhile, has been sweeping up RBOC deals, leading to industry recognition of its IMS strategy. (See LR Names Public Marketing Finalists, LR Unveils Public Co. Statesman Finalists, LR Names Public Product Finalists, SBC Jumps on Lucent IMS Bandwagon, Lucent Lands BellSouth IMS Deal, and Lucent in the Lead for Verizon IMS?.)

But Ericsson and Lucent are not alone in snapping up early IMS deals and making preparations for the future of IP service delivery. (See KPN Picks Siemens for Convergence, NetCentrex Acquires IMS Smarts, Telstra Unveils Switch to IP, Alcatel Wins Enterprise IMS Deal, Alcatel Demos IMS over WiMax, Alcatel, Sylantro Land Unicom Deal, Veraz Collaborates With Sun, and NewStep Adds to FMC Platform.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

For a comprehensive look at how IMS is driving network convergence, check out IMS: Blueprint for an Applications Revolution, to be held at the Langham Hotel in London on December 8, 2005.

Hosted by Graham Finnie, Heavy Reading Senior Analyst, IMS: Blueprint for an Applications Revolution will ensure that attendees understand both the opportunities and threats the IMS revolution presents.

For more information, click here.

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