Consultant Tom Nolle of CIMI Corp. has launched an open-source alternative to IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), saying he's following telcos' dissatisfaction with the way IMS is progressing.

Nolle started the idea, called ExpediaSphere, a year ago. He launched the idea Tuesday to coincide with Mobile World Congress 2009, although he's not attending the show. (See CIMI Starts ExperiaSphere .)

"The idea is to use open-source as a mechanism to put some dynamism into what people are calling Telco 2.0" but which is "disintegrating into Telco 0.25," says Nolle, who's made himself chief strategist of ExpediaSphere.

If all goes well, Nolle -- who's been doing the coding himself so far -- will turn the project open-source within a few months by dropping it on SourceForge.

This isn't just a case of Nolle going rogue. He claims ExperiaSphere is rooted in the complaints of disgruntled Tier 1 carriers working on IMS a year ago.

"I was doing a lot of work with some of the European operators in some of the standards committees, and I was becoming extremely frustrated by the fact that everybody who was writing telecom standards for software had never written telecom software," Nolle says. (Yes, he's got a background in telecom software.)

"One Tier 1 operator told me, 'My company is 100 percent built on implementable standards, but we're not sure this is one of them.' "

Where's the problem? Nolle's instinct was that IMS should have been developed more along Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) lines, where suggestions get tossed about and experimented on.

"IMS has been an extremely rigidly controlled process, and at one level, that's a good thing. The problem is that IMS carries that rigidity all the way up the development cycle. It's very hard to write an IMS application."

OK, so, how's ExpediaSphere going to change that?

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mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:11:25 PM
re: CIMI Takes On IMS "Nolle and others like to use the term "abstraction layer" here, but really, it's just another example of trying to push complexity into the core of the network, leaving the edges as dumb as is practical."

The IETF believe in a dumb network, smart hosts, not the other way around. Read RFC1958, "Architectual Principles of the Internet", http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc195..., section 2.3.

It seems to me that IMS is all about trying to have the Internet changed to the "Bellhead" "applications only exist in the network, not at the edges" model. The reason old school Telcos like it is that it gives them control over the applications that the end user runs, unlike the Internet today. They like the idea of control, not because of the better assurance for customers of services, which is what they say, but because they then can *charge* for each and every application their customer can access, and they can prevent customers choosing to run applications themselves. Their fantasy is to be able to do things like charge 5c for each email you send, supposedly so they can provide far more assurance of delivery. Reality is, they just want the profit margins that they are now getting off of things like rext messages, greater than at least 90% I've heard.

IMS is all about trying to put the genie back into the bottle, but it just isn't going to work - Internet users will never give up the freedom they now have to use the network for what ever applications they choose to run, when they want to run them.
myusername2 12/5/2012 | 4:11:09 PM
re: CIMI Takes On IMS The notion that operators view IMS as some way of retaining full control of the end-user in the internet age is a common misconception. This may have been the view of some when the architecture was first mooted but what operator today believes that they could actually start charging their users 5 cents per email?

Every operator acknowledges 2 things today:

1. The technology trend is towards "All-IP." We need a standardised replacement service and control architecture and, so far, IMS is the only candidate.

2. The trend is towards flat-rate and "free" services largely driven by internet competition. In future, operators will need to attract and retain customers by offering bundles of services that are seemlessly integrated perhaps across fixed and mobile networks, IP and legacy. IMS offer the capability to do this in a standardised way with the promise of rapid (by telco standards) service development and yes, the ability to charge the user when necessary.

IMS is not about "trying to put the genie back into the bottle," it is simply a logical evolution of today's legacy telecom networks.
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