Report: IMS Goes From Hero to Zero

IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) has been a much ballyhooed architecture for delivering new and converged IP services to wireline and wireless customers, but carriers have had a hard time making a business case for full-scale deployment, according to a new Heavy Reading report.

The report, "IMS Deployment Update: Promises & Challenges," analyzes carriers' progress with IMS technologies and details the challenges that telcos see in achieving full-scale deployment.

"Not only is IMS running behind the schedule that telcos had optimistically set for themselves back in 2005, but there has also been rapid, and in some cases unexpected, development in the mainstream Internet that threatens the very concept of IMS," writes Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie, who authored the report.

IPTV, for instance, is taking up quite a bit of carrier attention, but "no IMS or IMS-like service that we know of is yet adding value to IPTV," he writes.

The report cites the migration to NGN VOIP Tispan as the main driver of IMS services today. Not only are the incumbent carriers replacing their public switched telephone networks (PSTNs) with IMS services, but they are also using it for fixed/mobile convergence and other enhancements to basic telephony. "The top IMS applications are all related to VOIP, while presence, instant messaging (IM), and unified messaging are also important," writes Finnie.

But the IMS business case remains a key holdup, the report says.

"The main issue is that while IMS may indeed prove to be a lower-cost solution for multiple applications, internal business case analyses are often done application-by-application, and in any case, it's not clear how many applications are required before IMS becomes cheaper than stovepipe approaches."

On top of this, there is also a debate as to whether the IMS deployments that have already taken place can even be classified as "real" IMS. For example, the report notes that the most widely deployed IMS services in wireless networks hardly differ from the regular deployments that preceded them.

For more information on the report, click here.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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