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IMS

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.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Direct all inquiries to: [email protected].




digits 12/5/2012 | 2:52:40 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS "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."

Both views have their supporters -- but will IMS live up to its promises?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 2:52:39 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS
Declaring a technology to be a success or failure the year after it really has been being pushed is an analyst thing.

Technologies, good or bad, take time to get into networks and really get their traction. Next year will be about the first carriers who deploy such systems to find some of the limitations and strengths of the architectures.

It will be 5 years before we truly know whether the technology will be widely deployed and useful in a broad brush. One thing I firmly believe: It will be nowhere near as good as its evangelists claim and nowhere near as bad as its denigrators blame.

seven
drmitsos 12/5/2012 | 2:52:35 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS Does anyone have a rough indication of costs needed by an operator to enable IMS services?
I guess that in general, CSCF, AS, MGW and HSS components would be necessary.

Especially when an operator has invested in 3GPP Release 4 equipment which may not be upgradable to R5/6/7, the cost would be significant. I am not sure whether new services or "bundling of services" would justify such high capital expenditures at the moment.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 2:52:34 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS drmitsos asks:
Does anyone have a rough indication of costs needed by an operator to enable IMS services?
I guess that in general, CSCF, AS, MGW and HSS components would be necessary.


If capital cost isn't at least $50/line, no equipment vendor would bother building IMS since they'd never make back their NRE. IMS is so complex that you pretty much have to one-stop-shop a vertical integration from one vendor. The NRE for IMS is pretty staggering and the specs are a moving target so there's five+ years of job security for the team developing it. On top of CAPEX costs, the equipment vendors probably have to charge around $5/line per year in OPEX as a maintanence charge to keep their army of engineers and customer support people alive.

voyce_overipee 12/5/2012 | 2:52:30 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS It will be 5 years before we truly know whether the technology will be widely deployed and useful in a broad brush. One thing I firmly believe: It will be nowhere near as good as its evangelists claim and nowhere near as bad as its denigrators blame.

Holy crap. Who let someone post a message based on common sense? How can we be interested in reading LR articles if they don't start flame-wars, or either claim the sky is falling or the sky isn't even the limit for a technology?

Speaking of which, ***LightReading Editors***, why hasn't there been an article on the battle over "control" of the internet between the US, EU, and UN? That would be a fun message board.
voyce_overipee 12/5/2012 | 2:52:29 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS Not to point out the obivous, but IMS, TISPAN, ITU, ATIS, PAcketCable, etc. architectures and standards don't tell operators which components they need physically. It's all about logical functions. As far as IMS is concerned, the P/I/S-CSCF, MRFC, PDF, BGCF, HSS, and other IMS core pieces can all run on a single box. So long as externally they have the right interfaces and funcaitonal behavior as if they were the separate pieces.

Quite a few of the vendors today actually offer at least the P/I/S-CSCF and MRFC functions in a single box. And then some go the other extreme and break apart pieces that a standard considers one logical function. It all depends on the scale and net design you want.
drmitsos 12/5/2012 | 2:52:25 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS I am just trying to grasp what expenditures we are talking about. I dont see IMS as bringing a revolution for the end user, just a placing a walled garden around them so that they use services from the operator instead of the operator becoming a fat pipe.

Is that a justification for the huge cost to the operator that IMS may imply? And with each vendor having their own flavours of components, it is most likely to become i-mess.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 2:52:23 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS drmitsos writes:
I am just trying to grasp what expenditures we are talking about. I dont see IMS as bringing a revolution for the end user, just a placing a walled garden around them so that they use services from the operator instead of the operator becoming a fat pipe.

Is that a justification for the huge cost to the operator that IMS may imply? And with each vendor having their own flavours of components, it is most likely to become i-mess.


The expenditures are split between the IMS core and feature/application servers that live on the ISC interface. You need admission control, protocol policing, and security to get into that walled garden. You need a fancy database engine called an HSS. You need gateways to the legacy environment. The ISC interface to app/feature servers is a SIP version of what AIN was supposed to be in the legacy telephony world.

The justification for IMS is that SIP becomes the control plane for converged services. If all you want is voice phone calls, it doesn't buy you anything. If you're trying to layer on non-voice services like streaming video, gaming, and multi-media instant messaging to harvest more money from your customers, you can offer better integration of these services if they all share the same control mechanisms.

Can IMS become I-Mess? Certainly. It's never going to be a multi-vendor solution and some vendors may stumble adding the value-added services. We all remember how hyped AIN was and how few services ever got deployed using it. Since it's the same vendors who never delivered on AIN, there's always the risk that IMS will go down the same path. We won't know the answer for a decade.
drmitsos 12/5/2012 | 2:52:22 AM
re: Crunch Time for IMS I totally agree. People in marketing seem to have a different point of view though...

I don't think we will see full IMS installations until at least 2010. My opinion is that we will see smaller islands of IMS in mobile to start with, offering new -or combinational - services and then if these make money, operators will include more IMS functionality into the core.
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