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IMS

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

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.

seven
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
Unstrung
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.

optodoofus
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)...


Dreamer
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?)
dljvjbsl 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.

I suppose that this is a reason that IMS exists. Teh applications would be done by the private network but there has to be a means to authorize the user and account for his servces on the public network.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:07:18 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Hi Turing,

I supposed that you are not from USA. In USA as opposed to Europe or Asia, the coverage of cellphone at home is bad. In fact, a lot of American lived in sub-urban area that they cannot receive the cellphone signal. So, having the cellphone coverage enhanced by 802.11 at home make sense in USA. It may not matter to the rest of the world..

Dreamer
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:07:18 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World So I've been hearing both camps on the IMS issue for a while, and I'm curious if there are actual examples of IMS services consumers want. Not that I think that's why IMS will happen (I don't).

Here are ideas I've heard:
1) Integration of wireless/wireline with cell/802.11 combo phones. Doesn't make much sense to me, but it gets a lot of press. I guess it would be good for avoiding crazy international roaming rates (and finally creates a world-wide mobile phone access standard, namely 802.11)
2) Playing cellphone games against people with PCs.
3) Interfacing SMS with IM, so that a cell phone user can SMS to instant messenger users and vice versa.
4) Motion video cell phone calls to video softphones. (gives a whole new meaning to the use of cell phones for spying/peeping, and for 900 porn numbers)
5) Hosted directory services (like being able to look up your company directory through your cell or deskphone or softphone with your specific friends/favorites/etc.).
dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 3:07:22 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World The Fundamentalists are winning...but so far, only 16 people have voted:

Au contraire. With 39 people voting over 60% say that IMS is not a fundamental technology. It just goes to show that good sense will triumph over marketing hype. Perhaps we all learned the lesson of the year 2000.
Peter Heywood 12/5/2012 | 3:07:23 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World The Fundamentalists are winning...but so far, only 16 people have voted:


http://www.lightreading.com/su...
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:07:26 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World In the first possibility, the telephone company can choose to attempt to create a walled garden a la AOL or Compuserve. For this possibility to work the telephone company will have to create an environment that is better than the Internet. AOL and Compuserve tried this and failed.

AOL and Compuserv did not have the power to stop you. Broadband and dial-up ISPs were becoming so prevalent that AOL/CS were swimming upstream. But voice is the domain of telco's, and they own the last mile access and the PSTN/cell networks, so it's well within their power to prevent you from achieving an equal voice service from other players (or yourself). Of course cable-co's own a last mile too, but I lump them in with the telco's - their model is not far off of an IMS one (and it appears they want to get closer to IMS). Either way, you're paying for the service.

I totally agree with you that their track record of advanced services has been a case study for business schools of what not to do. But I'm not arguing for that IMS piece - in fact I'm not really arguing any IMS piece, or that the telco's have that much of a clue. I'm just arguing against the people who think the telco's should give up the voice revenue because it's all going to be free anytime soon.
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:07:26 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World IBM never thought those longhairs using PCs in CA would threaten the mainframe. Just you wait.

Actually, I seem to recall IBM being the one that threatened the mainframe, at least with the advent of the AT/XT PC. They got PCs into enterprises, but it took LAN technology to defeat the last application mainframes had a monopoly on: centralized applications, such as databases.

Regardless, the analogy does not equate. Moving to PCs was in the power of the consumers - you could choose to migrate to it without giving up the application benefits. I don't think voice or video distribution is the same situation. You can choose to use Skype, but it's in the power of the telco's/cable-co's to stop you, and you have to give up some benefits.

It's in their power because they own the access network. Thus they can differentiate with latency/throughput/loss, which are specific network transport issues with voice that are not true of other apps. And you give up PSTN access (a big deal). If you want PSTN access, you must pay - even Skype. So then it's just a matter of a cost battle, not an IMS vs. non-IMS argument. And although we may be under the dilusion that the PSTN is going away, we know cell phones won't, and guess who controls them.
dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 3:07:28 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World turing writes:


The telco's are betting the majority of every-day people/consumers and enterprises choose the latter. They don't care much (I think) about the few geeks who can get much of it to work without them. They care a lot about the vonage's, and I think qos and bundling is their only saving grace there.


There are really two issues here. The first is indicated in the quotation above. Will people want to buy Internet services (services not access) from the telephone company. The second issue is whether IMS provides a basis for the telephone company to create and provide services.

The second question is the easiest to answer. IMS provides the telephone company with the ability to charge for services. There is a lot in it about authorizing and billing for services. However on the issue of how services can be created IMS resorts to hand waving. It has no answer to this question.

The first issue can be broken into two parts. In the first possibility, the telephone company can choose to attempt to create a walled garden a la AOL or Compuserve. For this possibility to work the telephone company will have to create an environment that is better than the Internet. AOL and Compuserve tried this and failed.

The second possibility is that the telephone companies will be able to create services that will attract subscribers on the free Internet. This would be akin to Apple's ITunes or the currently popular ring tones. This is the possibility that has the greater chance of success. However this raises the question of whether IMS is relevant to the creation of useful services. As indicated above IMS's answer to issue of service creation is advice on how to swing one's arms in ever increasing

The above discussion should also be taken with knowledge that the telephone company is the entity that brought the world ISDN, the AIN and Centrex. Given this record, the prospect of the telephone company supplying services that their subscribers will not actively despise is remote.
circles.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:07:30 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Its all over but the crying. This is classic Innovator's Delimma. A disruptive technology that disintermediates a costly, over featured, monopoly is used by fringe folks in oddball ways at first.

IBM never thought those longhairs using PCs in CA would threaten the mainframe. Just you wait. Change is always slower than you think in the short term, and faster than you think in the long term.
DanJones 12/5/2012 | 3:07:31 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World "I sure hope your cell phone has one helluva big battery. Unlike the cellular network, IEEE 802.11b/g and the LAN & IP protocols that sit on top of them aren't particularly optimized for power consumption. You do an awful lot of transmitting when the phone is idle."

Vendors are trying to solve on the device side. Atheros, Broadcomm, and Intel all have -- or are developing low-power 802.11 chipsets -- that "sleep" if the user is idle. But yes I suspect battery life will be issue for the early devices, especially as the cellphone format leads to certain expectations about battery life.

Dan

Dan
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:07:32 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World It may be ludicrous but as this message board demonetrates it is what technology is dictating that the network do. Users of this board create their postings locally with customization by mark up language. There is no need for any network operator intervention. Users could, if they wanted, put their SIP address in any posting in orer to allow voice interaction either directly or through conference.

On the contrary, web-based interaction and requirements are not the same as voice. Of course you and I can communicate with SIP directly, and if Enum every really takes off maybe it will even become more realistic to do so on a large scale. But since voip requires a level of network transport performance way beyond web/email, and you want to be able to reach the pstn, and possibly have a convergence of your cellphone services with wireline, etc. - you need a provider relationship which is far and above that of web browsing or email. For that you must pay. You can pay nothing and get little, or pay vonage/skype for the services and pstn calls but not get the quality and wireless convergence, or you can pay your local telco and get all of it, including broadband data bundled into a single bill. (if this thing ever actually works, of course)

The telco's are betting the majority of every-day people/consumers and enterprises choose the latter. They don't care much (I think) about the few geeks who can get much of it to work without them. They care a lot about the vonage's, and I think qos and bundling is their only saving grace there.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:07:34 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World dreamer101 writes:
There is one good reason for IMS to touch the wireline world. This is for cellphone to switch over to VoWiFi mode when you went home. It makes sense to use the same IMS for the Wireless side to handle this kind of traffic.

I sure hope your cell phone has one helluva big battery. Unlike the cellular network, IEEE 802.11b/g and the LAN & IP protocols that sit on top of them aren't particularly optimized for power consumption. You do an awful lot of transmitting when the phone is idle.

You don't necessarily need IMS to solve this problem. There are a good half-dozen alternative solutions being kicked around that are typically adjunct boxes on the IP network that use IS-41 or GSM-MAP signaling to the legacy cellular network to make the user roam onto the adjunct box. There's a flavor called UMA where you tunnel 2G signaling over IP. There's a flavor where you use vanilla RFC 3261 SIP.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:07:35 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Hi,

There is one good reason for IMS to touch the wireline world. This is for cellphone to switch over to VoWiFi mode when you went home. It makes sense to use the same IMS for the Wireless side to handle this kind of traffic.

Now, whether there is any other good reason for IMS, I have no idea..

Dreamer
fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 3:07:36 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Telcowelder, there's no need to centralize services, for their own sake. The idea of IMS is to control content. It doesn't open up new services -- the Internet is full of services! It provides a walled garden of services in lieu of allowing Internet access.

Mobile operators have a financial problem. They sell costly voice minutes of use. Internet access, if priced by the byte, is a hard sell, if only because customers are used to flat rates now. But flat rate Internet access allows VoIP and other services to be accessed for a marginal revenue to the operator of $0. Oops. If it cannibalizes the main product it's a problem.

So they don't want that either. So instead they have IMS, which allows them to sell walled garden services, block most of the Internet, and provide controlled, deep-packet-inspected access to selected Internet sites, along with its own pay-per-view. But no VoIP, no IPTV streams, no e-commerce sites that don't pay a cut, no free music, no dissenting opinion sites.

An alternative would be to charge above incremental cost for bandwidth, on a metered or bucket-of-bytes basis.

And there is NO excuse for this crap to TOUCH the wireline world.
TelcoWelder 12/5/2012 | 3:07:37 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World As far as I can tell an IMS is a next generation service platform.

Yes, there is a lot of hype, but it is also very important. Lets say at the moment you are a mobile operator, you probably have different servers, architechture and interfaces for your customer's: voice mail, balance enquiry, pay-as-you-go crediting service, bill enquiry, wap gateway. From the operator view there will be the location services supplied to 3rd parties, the interface to messaging - why get your customrrs to interface via X.25 to your SMSC's when you can, for a price of course, host them on your IMS. You can have all of your logo, ringtone, game, and widget download services in one place.

The IMS will centralise all of this, it will make the billing/activation interface nice and simple for the SI's and ISV's to code to, it will be a standard archtecture that will be scalable - you'll know you can throw more boxes at it without worrying if you should be spending more on your Java games cluster than your voicemail cluster.

It's going to open up new services, like storing your camera phone images remotely to look at on the web interface etc. The big boys (Vodafone etc.) are looking at context awareness applications - these are going to need access to service descriptions and costs etc. made available through the IMS.

So in a way there is nothing new here. iMode has been around from the user perspective and there are almost certainly programs in major telcos to standardise the rest, but this is a step accross the industry. SIP is just a protocol, IMS is just a platform - the two aren't directly comparable.
dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 3:07:38 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Thinking that telco operators shoud stop making money from the voice services and just become a fat bit pip is ludicrous

It may be ludicrous but as this message board demonetrates it is what technology is dictating that the network do. Users of this board create their postings locally with customization by mark up language. There is no need for any network operator intervention. Users could, if they wanted, put their SIP address in any posting in orer to allow voice interaction either directly or through conference.

So as others have said IMS is being developed for operators not users. IMS doesn't really do anything except add some 3G acronyms to the standard SIP architecture. Applications come by the actions of the magic SCIM box that does everything but is still mysteriously undefined.

SO IMS is like King Canute. It commands the tide of technology to withdraw and like Canute will inevitably fail. The telecom carriers are will slowly vanish because nobody will pay for their services.
turing 12/5/2012 | 3:07:38 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World Well said Alchemy.

Thinking the telco operators should stop making money from the voice services and just become fat pip providers is ludicrous.

Try telling a Cable operator they should stop making money from Video delivery, and instead just live off the fraction of revenue from broadband data. After all, you can get video over IP and other video providers or just anyone could send it to you over the internet, so why should you be locked to using your local cable co's video just 'cause you use their cable?
fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 3:07:40 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World I'm not so sure that IMS can be characterized as being basically SIP. Would that it were so... while I'm no SIP fancier, SIP at least works across the Internet model, with a general notion of services riding above a transport network that doesn't peek inside the envelope or control content.

The IMS architecture seems to be a complex, almost baroque way to take total control of every bit inside every packet, and bill for it based on the application. It's fast WAP, a gussied-up Minitel using IP to impress the investors.

The business model of IMS -- you can see this in the "Don't Get Skyped" presentation that Rod Randall gave -- is to have all "services" (end user applications) performed by the network, or at very leased charged for as if they were, on grounds that you shouldn't get away with bypassing their services. It's the old Private Express model of business, wherein the Post Office is supposed to get a stamp for letters delivered by others in violation of its monopoly.

Customers probably won't want this, especially if it includes the Deep Packet Inspection filters that Bytemobile and others are trying to sell. They're stuck with it today in the WAP world, but the wireline side still has a real Internet. The Bells are, it seems, trying to put an end to that too, with their move (which Martin seems anxious to allow) to terminate their century-old common carriage obligations. This would replace the broadband Internet with a "fat wasteband" of IMS or IPsphere walled garden "services".

It's totally a vendor push, against user interests. With any luck at all it will fail miserably.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:07:40 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World fgoldstein writes:
Customers probably won't want this, especially if it includes the Deep Packet Inspection filters that Bytemobile and others are trying to sell. They're stuck with it today in the WAP world, but the wireline side still has a real Internet. The Bells are, it seems, trying to put an end to that too, with their move (which Martin seems anxious to allow) to terminate their century-old common carriage obligations. This would replace the broadband Internet with a "fat wasteband" of IMS or IPsphere walled garden "services".

It's totally a vendor push, against user interests. With any luck at all it will fail miserably.


I see it somewhat differently. First, it's not a vendor push, it's an operator push. Operators make money by selling services and features that their customer base is willing to pay extra money for. IMS gives them a platform to roll out these extra services.

I agree that IMS is pretty much the anti-SIP architecture. The cell phone is kept dumb and all the features are implemented in the core. The stripped-down and compressed SIP protocol variant subset spoken by cell phones is poked at and inspected as the signaling enters the core network to ensure that nothing will be harmed. The cell phone has a GSM SIM chip in it so it's difficult to steal service or hack into the network without physically stealing a phone. In my opinion, this is a pretty good way to build something that you want to be hardened and you expect to charge money for it. It's not the SIP sandbox advocated by the IETF where all features, including phone calls, are given away for free.

Unlike vanilla SIP, which is fully distributed and thus likely to be unreliable for a number of years due to complexity in a multi-implementation and multi-vendor environment, IMS is bounded and has centralized control so it's much more straightforward to make it work with a high quality level.

Of course, if you want everything for free, IMS ain't gonna do it for you.
dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 3:07:44 AM
re: IMS Takes Over the World
IMS as marketing speak

From the article:

Yet there are very few true IMS deployments to date, and many unanswered questions about where, why, and how IMS is best implemented."

IMS is a refernce spcfication that contains the standard SIP architecture and a great deal of hype. If IMS leads to renewed interest in the industry and more jobs then great. Howevr one should not confuse it with a significant piece of technology. It is marketing speak for standard SIP ideas.
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