IMS strategies: Synopsis from IMS 2.0 world forum

IMS 2.0 world forum is a must attend event .. I learnt a lot from it. Here is a brief synopsis of where I see IMS is heading to ..

Seek your thoughts and feedback especially you can identify other Operators with an interesting strategy and / or if you attended this event

As I could gather, there are six broad strategies

a) Voice call continuity(VCC) / fixed to mobile convergence

b) Blended voice : voice tied contextually to messaging or rich media

c) SIP without IMS

d) Strategies from device manufacturers(especially Nokia and Motorola)

e) Real time IMS applications (multiplayer games and other such applications that need near real time blended media interaction within a session)

f) Abstraction of the core network

(d) Device manufacturer strategies (d)is the subject of a separate blog

Most of the focus is around (a) Voice call continuity(VCC) / fixed to mobile convergence

This is a pity – but also understandable Operators are most familiar with voice

In its broadest sense, voice call continuity pertains to roaming within cellular and non cellular networks(such as roaming between cellular and wifi networks). A specific instance of this is Fixed to mobile convergence for instance BT fusion

My personal view is:

a) I don’t quite know if I would be interested in FMC as a customer ..

b) I think its being sold on cost – which is not a good idea

c) I think it fulfils an industry goal(fixed and mobile networks trying to get new subscribers from each other’s networks in mature markets)

d) In general, voice is becoming cheap .. so I am not sure that a pure voice play is a good idea

Blended voice(b) and real time applications(e) are interesting but need device support. Devices supporting IMS fully are conspicuous by their absence!

In contrast, devices supporting SIP(c) – but not IMS are very much here and so are applications – for instance movial

Abstracting the network layer through software APIs(f) – is the most interesting – but I felt very few Operators had the vision to embrace this strategy at the moment. The two big exceptions being TIM and Telia sonera – who are doing some very interesting work.

To recap, by abstracting the network layer, I mean : In an IP world, as the Mobile Internet mirrors the Internet, the Operator should focus on the core of the network and leave the edge of the network to third parties. Specifically, this means – identify the elements that can be performed ONLY in the core and then abstract them through APIs. This approach gets us away from the dichotomy of the ‘pipe’ vs. ‘no pipe’. It also means that the Operator retains control.

Finally, Operators in emerging markets like Globe telecom from Philippines were also impressive i.e. they understood the space, the issues specific to their market and how they could leverage IMS in their markets. Harvey G Libarnes, Head of innovation and incubations program , Globe Telecom, gave a very thorogh presentation

Finally, there are some interesting plays : such as Mobilkom with A1 over IP and France Telecom with IPTV strategy

To conclude:

a) At Operator level, IMS is still largely about voice and a defensive approach(such as FMC)

b) Lack of devices is the key question mark

c) Device manufacturers on the other hand have significant leverage(more on that soon)

d) Some operators are going to be very innovative – TIM and Teliasonera from amongst the attendees

Seek your thoughts and feedback especially you can identify other Operators with an interesting strategy and / or if you attended this event