Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 6
This Month's Issue:
IMS: the Way to True Convergence?
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Addressing the Challenges and
Opportunities of IMS Pragmatically

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By Liam Maxwell

While innovation and technology provide the foundation for the communications industry, they can also sometimes get in the way of a great idea. For example, to help communications service providers (CSPs) integrate and orchestrate IP-based multimedia services across disparate network domains, the mobile telecommunications industry standards group 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has introduced IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) – an industry standard for defining the IP-based next-generation network architecture to enable the convergence of voice, data, video, and other types of content into real-time, multi-party communication services, and its delivery over any type of communication or broadband network. However, while this new, promising technology continues to mature, highly successful internet players – such as Google, Skype, Facebook, and MySpace – have taken the lead in blending communication services with their Web 2.0 service innovation and are raising customer expectations for integrated functionality and high-quality user experiences. So how can traditional CSPs compete with these internet leaders, escape the confines of their legacy systems, and deliver services that hit the mark?

It is clear that next-generation network architectures such as IMS can help CSPs gain a competitive advantage and increase revenue potentials, but a full-scale implementation can be costly and time-intensive. With a priority to

How can traditional CSPs compete with these internet leaders, escape the confines of their legacy systems, and deliver services that hit the mark?


The Challenge

Over the next several years, next-generation architectures such as IMS will begin to eliminate the boundaries between wireless and wireline networks, so that network domains no longer matter when it comes to service creation, execution, and delivery. CSPs are looking to IMS to deliver carrier-grade networking, reliability, accounting, security, and a range of real-time multimedia service capabilities, with the ultimate goal of delivering an "industrial strength" platform on

more effectively compete with nimble, innovative internet and broadband players now, CSPs often struggle to make a business case for a full IMS implementation that promises significant cost and revenue benefits later. Further, in today's financial environment, as it becomes more difficult to access the capital needed to finance a full-scale IMS roll out, it is even more critical that CSPs find a more pragmatic approach. CSPs can use standards-based service delivery platforms (SDPs) and key enablers to make the move to IMS pragmatically, while enjoying the benefits of new service revenue. By leveraging SDPs to deliver and derive revenue from legacy and next-generation communication services immediately, CSPs can modernize their business and operational IT systems incrementally, with reduced risk and cost.

which global enterprises and consumer-content providers can build future strategies. However, IMS is a highly complex architecture that could introduce significant risk and expense if service providers rush into full deployments to tackle short-term market challenges. In addition, the industry still needs to flesh out and test critical aspects of IMS, such as service-layer functions including creation, delivery, and orchestration that are not specifically defined. While these maturity issues can and will be resolved, it will not happen quickly enough to give CSPs the services they need to satisfy their immediate time-to-market pressures.

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