The announcement comes just a day after Cingular Wireless LLC -- the mobile operator part-owned by SBC -- said that it will use Lucent's kit to implement IMS. (See Cingular Picks Lucent for IMS). This leads analysts to suggest that Cingular's other parent, BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), will soon follow suit and announce that it has jumped on the Lucent IMS bandwagon any day now.
"We continue to believe LU won the IMS deal at BLS," says UBS Research's Nikos Theodosopoulos in a note on the Cingular deal.
A spokesman for BellSouth declined to comment on a potential deal with Lucent but didn't deny the possibilty when asked.
"We work closely with our partners," Joe Chandler, BellSouth's director of media relations told Unstrung. "It may well turn out to be the case, but we have not made any announcements, and obviously, I'm not saying we are."
Interoperability could be a key reason for chosing a single supplier for early IMS deployements. IP Multimedia Subsystems are ostensively standardized architecture, but -- since the systems are so new -- it is not yet clear how much interoperability testing has been done on transferring data, video, and voice services across the cellular, WiFi, and wired network elements.
SBC plans to deploy IMS services at the end of 2006 under the "Project Lightspeed" umbrella, which will integrate IP voice, video, and data services, starting in 2005. Anticipated IMS-based services include:
- Find me, follow me: This lets a customer determine how an incoming call will be routed if her phone is busy or she is in a meeting. The customer can enter up to three numbers, with voice mail the fallback if the call is unanswered at all three locations.
- Address book sharing: Sharing of common address books across devices, so a user only has to enter a phone number or address once rather than in each device.
- On-screen Caller ID: Allowing incoming calls to appear on the SBC U-verse TV service.
- Multinetwork connectivity: Allows customers to seamlessly switch voice and data connectivity across networks. For example, a customer can begin a voice conversation while in his car, using the cellular network. As he pulls into his driveway, the call is automatically switched to his WiFi home network.
Cingular announced today that it has launched its high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) 3G network upgrade in selected markets in the U.S. HSDPA and its CDMA equivalent, EV-DO (evolution, data only), are considered by some industry commentators to be a key technical requirement for rolling out IMS services. (See IMS Taxes Mobile Voice.) This is because moving to pure IP services tends to put more of a strain on mobile networks than do cellular voice calls. (See Cingular HSDPA Goes Live.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung