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IMS uptake an opportunity for CG Linux vendors?

Mar 13, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Mobile operators will net $300 billion in “extra” revenue over the next five years by deploying IMS (IP multimedia subsystems), according to a new report from ABI. The market research firm says telecom infrastructure equipment providers will also profit from IMS, suggesting opportunity for Carrier Grade Linux providers as well.

IMS aims to integrate packet-switched networking based on Internet protocol (IP) with telecom networks, which have traditionally been circuit-switched. Since IMS technology is fairly new, IMS servers are often based on AdvancedTCA hardware running Carrier Grade Linux.

Carried to its logical extreme, IMS can fully integrate data and voice services, by using SIP (session initiation protocol) and other VoIP standards to turn voice communications into just another packet-switched component of an all-IP network. Such all-IP networks, some deployed via WiMAX, will begin rolling out over the next two years, ABI said in a separate report.

So far, though, ABI says IMS has mostly been adopted by fixed-line (non-wireless) operators who simply wish to tack on IP-based services as revenue enhancers. Presumably, such services include data-centric subscriber services like voice mailboxes. (Another research firm, In-Stat, last year wondered, can IMS, CVS, and SDPs save land lines?)

Now, though, ABI suggests that IMS is set to make a splash with wireless carriers, for whom the technology was arguably built in the first place. IMS is an umbrella framework developed by the 3GPP (3G Partnership Project), an important wireless industry group.

ABI expects Sprint, Verizon, and BT (British Telecom) to roll out IMS at a “quickening tempo,” in part because it enables more rapid development and deployment of new services. To further accelerate new service deployments, Verizon and BT will even open their IMS interfaces to enable third-party developers easy access, according to the research firm.

Senior Analyst Nadine Manjaro commented, “Until recently IMS was mainly the province of fixed-line operators. But now IMS is essential to the success of mobile and fixed operators who are losing revenue from traditional sources.”

Manjaro elaborates, “With recent moves by Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T to offer less profitable flat rate services as a way to fight subscriber churn, operators are forced to look at IMS and similar solutions because they need to start generating more revenue.”

Another reason for wireless operators' change of attitude toward IMS has been the realization that IMS is not a service in and of itself, but a platform on which services can be built. This outlook may help focus the business case for IMS rollouts, Manjaro suggested, saying, “It's easier to quantify the opportunity [if] you look at it in terms of potential revenue.”

As IMS adoption picks up, major infrastructure providers are meeting the challenge of delivering IMS systems that can be rolled out without disrupting existing services, the report suggests. Cited providers include Ericsson, Alcatel, and Nokia-Siemens, all of whom support Linux on their IMS equipment. The exact revenue upside potential for infrastructure providers is difficult to quantify, though, Manjara said, because providers have historically “bundled” IMS as an added-cost addition.

Further details are available in an ABI study entitled “IMS Core Networks: A Dynamic Service-Based Architecture.” The report examines IMS in both wireline and wireless networks.

Another fairly recent report, In-Stat's “IMS in the Enterprise Market,” forecasts a $15 billion market for enterprise IMS by 2010.

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