IMS no panacea for service creation
Creating an open network on which services can be quickly developed and easily deployed is not a new challenge for the telecom industry. The IP multimedia subsystem architecture currently is being touted for the promise it holds to create a truly extracted services layer, separate of network technology and able to deliver common services over multiple systems, but it is only the latest such effort.
The question before the telecom industry is how to enable IMS to succeed where those previous efforts — such as the advanced intelligent network and next-generation network initiatives — have fallen short of their promise. To a great extent, the key challenge is service creation.
“The challenge is to deliver the same service over converged networks — TDM and IP, wireless and wireline — and have the user experience be the same,” said Mark McIlvane, president and CEO of Personeta, which created an intelligent service creation platform, as well as IMS applications servers. “The industry really isn't there yet, not by a long shot. The part of IMS that is least defined is the part that addresses key service creation issues.”
At the same time, service providers are under intense pressure to quickly deploy new revenue-generating offers, which means they are more likely to use IMS technology — or IMS-like technology — to offer a service today, even if all the bells and whistles of IMS aren't yet available to be deployed.
“Basic VoIP services are being very quickly commoditized,” said Kevin Nethercott, founder, president and CEO of LignUp, which created an open applications platform using Web-based services technology for its session initiation protocol (SIP) server entry. “The service providers we are talking to want a development environment for today and a road map that shows how they get to IMS tomorrow.”
In fact, even those addressing IMS's limitations in service creation don't doubt that it is the destination of the service providers' journey to higher-revenue services.
“The same things are being said about IMS that were said about NGN,” said Joe McGarvey, senior analyst with Current Analysis. “The difference is that there are no contrary voices out there. It may not be the nirvana that everyone is hoping it will be, but there is agreement that it's the best option right now.”
There is also a very different market today than existed during past efforts to introduce new service architectures, said David Croslin, IT chief product architect for MCI.
“What's different here is that all of the traditional revenue streams for a telecom provider are commoditizing,” he said. “Everybody is driving toward services. MCI's corporate model is shifting from being a frame relay provider or an 800 provider to being a service provider for whatever our customers need. We need an infrastructure that allows you to mix and match and combine services to meet the business model of your customers. The whole concept of who we sell to and how we sell is changing — everything is based on subscribers, not on services or circuits.”
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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