Tuesday, 12 August 2008

IMS: Reality check

IMS is another technology not doing too well at present. I came across this report by Yankee group, "IMS Market Update: The Honeymoon Is Over, Now What?" and it answers some of the questions why IMS is not as popular as people expected it to be 3-4 years back.
Some of the promises made by IMS were:
  • New IMS based apps, hence increased ARPU
  • Simplified network design, hence lower OPEX
  • Platform for killer services
  • Components interchangeable
  • Plug and Play environment for access networks

But the reason IMS has not found success is because:

  • IMS Standards are in flux
  • Everything is quite complex and not very clear
  • OSS/BSS integration is very complicated

An article in Cable 360 has some up to date market details:

Based on a report completed in January by ABI Research, Ericsson is market leader in providing IMS infrastructure followed by Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens. The other vendors in this ranking include Motorola (4), Huawei Technologies (5), Cisco Systems (6), Nortel Networks (7), Acme Packet (8), Thomson (9) and Tekelec (10).

Bundling is increasingly the way that IMS is sold. "Huawei combined a lot of their wireless offerings with IMS," ABI Senior Research Analyst, Nadine Manjaro said. "Whatever their contacts were, they had an IMS element."

"Previously (IMS) was more fixed," she said. "IMS is difficult to integrate. (So) one trend is combining IMS with infrastructure and 3G deployment and managed services," she said.
Increasingly critical to versions 6, 7 and 8 of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), IMS will become more tightly linked with mobile technologies, Manjaro predicted. The overall context remains telephony-focused.

"You see highly voice-over-IP related deployments of IMS globally," she said.

My understanding is that with the tight squeeze on financial market, everyone is trying to spend as less as they can. This means that end users are being shy of the extra features and services as long as it costs them and the operators are being shy of investing in new technologies or upgrading their infrastructure. Even though investment on IMS could be significant, it can provide long term benefits which may distinguish an operator from others and provide the cutting edge.

Another thing is that the IMS technologists (and why just them, others as well) should ensure that all the technical problems are ironed out and start promoting the technology to everyone. People ae already confused enough about HSDPA and 4G and we need to prepare them to look forward to IMS.

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