Carriers Line Up for IMS Test

The MultiService Forum will tomorrow (Thursday) announce a global interoperability test involving IMS-based systems and services.

The IMS, or IP Multimedia Subsystem, standard is regarded by many in the telecom world as the best approach to services that could be rolled out concurrently across fixed and mobile networks -- often referred to as fixed/mobile convergence. It appears to be gaining favor with many Tier 1 carriers. (See BellSouth: The IMS SuperBowl? , Ericsson, BB Mobile Show IMS, IMS Crunch Time, IMS Takes Over the World, IMS: What Are the Hot Apps?, Ericsson, Broadsoft Snack on Danish, IMS: Pulling the Pieces Together, Ericsson Provides IMS to Telefónica , LR Explains IMS, and Ericsson Grabs Sprint IMS Win.)

So with IMS gaining traction, the MultiService Forum (MSF), which organizes multivendor interoperability tests across multiple carriers' networks, plans to conduct a test to "demonstrate multi-vendor interoperability of QoS-enabled voice and multimedia services" spanning North America, Europe, and Asia in October 2006. (See SIP Ready for Prime Time, Says BT and MSF Claims IP Demo Success.)

The organization is working with operators to develop multiple test scenarios, and says (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Korea's , Japan's , (NYSE: VZ), and mobile giant Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) have expressed their interests in getting involved.

The MSF says the tests will involve the origination and termination of multiple services between IMS networks and those based on the MSF's own "R2+ Architecture." R2+ defines a set of physical IMS-based network designs that the forum believes will help its members "focus on a common set of commercially viable scenarios."

The network used for the tests will comprise R2+ wireline and IMS-based wireless nodes, with services being tested locally and internationally using fixed, mobile, and roaming SIP-enabled devices.

"Service providers see the promise of IMS, but more work needs to be done on the detail required to deliver true multi-vendor open architecture solutions," says MSF president Roger Ward in a prepared statement. The event, he says, "will be a prime opportunity for both carriers and vendors to test the ability of vendor-specific IMS solutions to interoperate with MSF R2+ networks."

But how useful are these tests? One industry analyst, who requested anonymity, says the process may be of limited use for those operators and systems suppliers that aren't involved in the MSF's event, but that the MSF should be credited with taking the work done by the IMS standards bodies -- European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)'s TISPAN group and 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) -- one step further. (See ETSI Holds IP Multimedia Services Workshop and ETSI Drives Convergence Standard.)

"I think it's useful, if only for the vendors and carriers involved. While TISPAN/3GPP is the authoritative standards grouping, someone has to bolt the bits together and test them," says the analyst.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

To find out more about the promise of IMS, check out the Light Reading Live! event, IMS: Blueprint for an Applications Revolution, to be held at the Langham Hotel in London on December 8, 2005.

For more information, click here.

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digits 12/5/2012 | 2:57:38 AM
re: Carriers Line Up for IMS Test Can such tests tell the industry in general anything about deploying IMS? Will the carriers and vendors NOT involved learn anything form the results?
fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 2:57:26 AM
re: Carriers Line Up for IMS Test The Rube Goldberg concoction called IMS makes little sense, except as a way for hardware vendors to sell lots of complicated, expensive gear that requires lots of maintenance, customization, and other costly services. It violates Occam's Razor in many ways, and certainly has no demand-side (consumer) pull behind it.

But I think I finally can make sense of the model, thaks to the msforum artwork. IMS is a reprise of the European ISDN "Teleservices" model from 1984 or so. As a few graybeards may recall through their fading memories, Europeans tried to standardize "teleservices", which were layer 7 applications that ran inside an ISDN. Some of the teleservices envisioned were videotex, Telefax 4, X.400 MHS, and "mixed mode" that combined teletex, telefax and voice onto a single "call".

The whole idea of teleservices was so blatantly in contradition to the FCC's structural separation (Computer II) rules that the newly-minted RBOCs were forbidden from even talking about them, and the US ISDN world totally ignored them. Europe, though, continued to draw pretty pictures, which were implemented shortly after all of the worlds' computers converted their networks to OSI and their source code to Ada.

IMS is almost as useful as the teleservices were, and will sell almost as well. Unfortunately, the current FCC favors the idea, as it has gone back to 1960s' models of computer networking, disclaims any notion of layering, disclaims common carriage, and will allow formerly-common carriers to intercede in subscribers' data flow, if it allows them to increase prices and profits. So the US carriers will spend big on this hoping that the political climate stays favorable to them long enough to force this abomination on the public.
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