January 31, 2005
MmO2 plc has become one of the first European mobile operators to unveil plans to implement emerging IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology.
The operator will deploy Siemens AG’s (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) IMS@vantage platform as part of a two-year program to introduce IP-based multimedia service capability in its core network. The first services will be launched by the end of 2005, says mmO2 chief technical officer Dave Williams (see O2 Picks Siemens IMS).
Services that could be delivered over IMS include presence-enabled group applications, such as push-to-talk and multimedia conferencing. So-called “combinational” and “rich call” services, like push-to-view, see-what-I-see, or push-to-share, while making a regular circuit-switched voice call, are also possible.
And using an IMS core to enable interworking of applications, with appropriate quality of service, across wireline and wireless networks makes it an important component of fixed-to-mobile convergence (see Convergence Ramps Up).
“There so much capability on this platform,” says Williams. “IMS will be the new signaling core for wireless networks.”
Defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications for 3G networks, IMS provides a SIP-based control mechanism between the transport and service layers of a network. It is expected to provide unprecedented flexibility to the way mobile data services are developed and operated (see IP Multimedia Subsystems: Easy Does It).
“We’ve decided to go early to get experience of developing services on IMS,” says Williams. “I want to grow our marketing and product development skill sets. It needs a whole suite of marketing expertise we haven’t got at the moment.”
Several other major European, Japanese, and North American operators have recently deployed IMS platforms, or are known to be preparing for it. The initial implementation is often based around a specific use-case, such as push-to-talk or video sharing, with the intention of adding new services to the platform over time (for example, see TIM Intros Video Sharing).
Aside from its service creation capabilities, an attractive feature of IMS is that it doesn’t require a huge upfront capital investment. “Initially it’ll be [deployed] on off-the-shelf Sun-Sparc server type hardware; long-term it makes its way into the [3GPP] R4 Core,” says Williams. “It’s not that expensive to deploy.”
— Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst, Unstrung Insider
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