IMS Takes Over the World

The latest report from Heavy Reading charts the rise of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology, and says that it is key to fixed-line carriers' ability to deploy services more cheaply, despite the technology's roots in the mobile world.

At its core, IMS is a means of delivering IP applications over different types of wired and wireless access networks (see IMS Guide). And the report, entitled "IMS and the Future of Network Convergence," finds that "IMS stands a good chance of becoming the primary network and service architecture for delivering revenue-generating IP applications on Tier 1 networks."

"It’s not too much to say that many vendors and some service providers now see IMS as the single most important telecom technology development of this decade, and almost all now see it as one of the most important," writes Graham Finnie, the report's author.

"All major equipment vendors, many mainstream IT suppliers, and a host of smaller specialist companies have committed to the IMS architecture. Yet there are very few true IMS deployments to date, and many unanswered questions about where, why, and how IMS is best implemented." Indeed, Finnie doesn't see many deployments happening until 2006 or 2007. And when deployments do happen, he writes that fixed-line carriers will be in the driving seat.

"IMS is now far more than just the means to mobile multimedia or even FMC [fixed/mobile convergence]; its transition from 3G to mainstream NGN [next-generation network] has been rapid. Although IMS was initially defined in the cellular mobile industry for 3G networks, many vendors report that there is now greater interest in IMS among wireline carriers than among wireless carriers. The reason: Wireline carriers face a more urgent need to fill the revenue gap, and broadband DSL is a better medium for the wide range of applications that IMS can allow than 3G – primarily because it is inherently higher-bandwidth than 3G, and also because VOIP will be deployed much earlier in broadband than in 3G."

But because the early development work was done on the wireless side, mobile infrastruture vendors have taken an early lead in the market.

"Ericsson and Siemens are currently in the best positions regarding IMS," Finnie writes. "Ericsson has taken a clear lead by virtue of its early commitment to IMS. Its strong wireless heritage is attractive to service providers, and it is the only vendor with a range of announced major IMS contract wins and customers. Siemens also bet early on IMS and has one important customer in KPN. Of the other incumbents, all are now strongly committed to IMS – with the notable exception of Cisco."

The mobile lead should be no surprise. IMS, as we hinted earlier, was initially developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to specify a third-generation mobile system based on evolved GSM core networks and the radio access technologies they support.

But the commercialization and growth of the scope of the technology is encouraging many more players to get in the game. The vendor space is becoming crowded and highly competitive," writes Finnie. Heavy Reading has identified at least 70 companies with an IMS proposition, and no doubt others will be added to the ranks of IMS pursuers in the months ahead.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:07:07 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World
The polls are pretty foolish outside of a way for LR to get the audience to click and therefore stay on the site longer.

Your point could be extended to say it this way....There is no evidence that anybody other than the relatives of Larry the Attack Monkey are voting in these polls. You should take the results to be as useful as if they were voted on by a bunch of chimpanzees.

maxplanc 12/5/2012 | 3:07:07 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World The Fundamentalists are winning...

It seems to me that many people, who feel that they are expected (by their peers or superiors) to understand the IMS but aren't really confident that they do, when asked, tend to respond that it is "overly complex". I often wonder if they say this because they feel it is an easier position to defend (without betraying their limited knowledge) or if it is an expression of their deeper anxiety about their own obsolescence? This is not to say that there may not be a modicum of truth in this expression of doubt, but it often seems to be expressed dishonestly. Hype has two fundamental aspects: the pro and the con and bandwagons come in all shapes and sizesGǪ

I'm not sure what this poll is actually measuring.
voyce_overipee 12/5/2012 | 3:07:14 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World ATCA does look nice, but IMS reminds me of Windows XP and its ilk -- software created to create demand for fast chips, not to fill a real need.

I'm sure any IMS manufacturer would love to get the penetration Windows XP has - i'm not sure you want to use that analogy.

I also don't know why anyone would tie ATCA to IMS... well I know why ATCA vendors want to, but its a bad link and sad that the media propetuates it. It's like saying HTTP servers are tied to Sun Microsystems Netra.

You can use ATCA chassis for anything requiring carrier chassis hardware without extreme bandwidth throughput demands, and you can use IMS on any hardware period. I didn't even see IMS require NEBS compliance or carrier hardware, and even if it did ATCA is only one of many ways to go, and only for some IMS boxes.
voyce_overipee 12/5/2012 | 3:07:14 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Call it what you like, but every carrier and vendor is calling it IMS. None of them have deployed it (really) because it's a farily new set of specs and products are only now starting to provide it (and it takes a while to get through operators' QA/ops/etc.).
DanJones 12/5/2012 | 3:07:16 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World I think that, particularly in Europe and Asia, being able to send text messges betweem cellphones and home/desk phones, could be a popular early consumer application.

BTW, what you all think about calling this technology IMS? I used the accronym in this particular piece because it was the title of the report. On the Unstrung site I've stipulated that we use fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) as the general category at least for the time being because I don't know of any real IMS deployments that have got beyond the planning stage yet.

Dan Jones
Site Editor
optodoofus 12/5/2012 | 3:07:16 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Alchemy,

How much exactly are you willing to pay to send a video of a product from your cell phone in the supermarket to your wife at home? If you're willing to cough up $50 or more per month (and you have a million or so equally gullible friends), I'm sure the SPs will be able to pay for all their fancy and expensive new IMS infrastructure.

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 3:07:16 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World IMS exists to make use of hardware.

I got proof it it today in the mailbox. Intel sent a brochure called "The path to enhanced revenue starts here." It's flogging IMS as a "competitive high-revenue service delivery infrastructure". How's that for buzzword-compliant?

Then it goes on to flog Advanced TCA with Intel processors, of course. This stuff is very CPU-intensive. ATCA does look nice, but IMS reminds me of Windows XP and its ilk -- software created to create demand for fast chips, not to fill a real need.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:07:17 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World I posted on the cell phone / IEEE 802.11 integration in this thread a couple of days ago: the post

You don't need IMS to do this integration. There are a bunch of other possible ways of solving the problem.

I think the killer application is video cameras integrated into higher bandwidth cell phones. There are trials in Japan using legacy technology that are receiving enthusiastic response. Once you make videophone mobile, it actually becomes useful. "Honey, is this what you wanted me to buy?" applications will put 802.11 hotspots in every store. To make this work properly, you really want to integrate it with the set-top box and put the image on the television as a true integrated quadruple play.

IMS to merely make phone calls is a complete waste of engineering bandwidth. It's video that makes the compelling case for a connection-oriented cellular IP infrastructure.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:07:17 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Hi,

If I am not mistaken, SBC and Cingular had made an announcement on this and they are working on providing this kind of service for home...

For enterprise?? I do not think there is a compelling business case for this since cellular coverage at business location is good. For home, it is either do or die (no coverage)...

turing 12/5/2012 | 3:07:18 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World I tgought teh 802.11 cellphones were for interworking with private networks. So a user would have an 802.11 phone for mobile use in his enterprise. It would convert to cellular when he left the premises. This is a means for the wireless company to get some business.

Not what I hear, I'm told it's so you can walk into your home 802.11 netork, or a wireless hotspot in a public area, and use the 802.11 network for making calls instead of the cells. (for a discounted rate I guess?)
I guess there could also be homes with bad cell coverage (but you'd think those areas wouldn't have great broadband service either?)
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