Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 6
This Month's Issue:
IMS: the Way to True Convergence?
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Why IMS?

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By Tim Young

IMS: IP Multimedia Subsystem. It's been a part of the telecommunications lexicon since the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) designed it as a wireless technology some time ago. It has obviously progressed from being an exclusively mobile technology to an integral part of the long-term visions of many a CSP. However, where are we on the road to true convergence? How can IMS help us get there? Is IMS the only way to go? Is its necessity a foregone conclusion?

In short, why IMS?

It would be unfair to call IMS a nascent technology. It's been batted around for several years, and there have been serious efforts to mainstream and refine the technology for some time. How far along is it? Radvision, a company specializing in visual communications, sums it up this way: "We think that the 80/20 rule applies here. We believe IMS has gone 80 percent of the way toward becoming a mainstream implementation, but it is still evolving." A fair appraisal. There's been a great deal of progress made on IMS over the last few years, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

Where are we on the road to true convergence? How can IMS help us get there? Is IMS the only way to go? Is its necessity a foregone conclusion?


turns out to be "service integration," and IMS will provide network services the flexibility to move with the market just as nimbly as with the Internet. IPTV is just one example of a new wave service that operators seek to deliver on a variety of underlying

SIP is pretty well mainstreamed at this point and serves as an adequate binder for IMS capabilities and applications. Other aspects of IMS (Home Subscriber Server, Application servers, NGN interconnections, etc) are at various levels of readiness. However, IMS has impact on the Core and the Edge alike, and still has ground to cover before it is ready to confront all of the challenges it will face.

Linking It All Together

What does IMS promise? "Early critics described IMS as a wonder technology in search of a killer application," said Roger Ward, Office of the CTO, BT Group and President of the MSF. "That killer application

infrastructures and we anticipate major media interest in our GMI2008 IPTV-related scenarios that compare IMS and non-IMS based solutions."

Indeed, regardless of whether or not IMS is fully ready to roll, more than a few major service providers have announced commitments to the architecture and its promise. It's not just about what IMS can do now, which is limited. It's about the promise of things to come. "IMS is more than a platform; it is a system which will enable the true convergence of services, using some very interesting blends of network and Internet functions," said Mark Wegleitner, Verizon Senior Vice President of Technology.

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