It was a while coming, but welcome to the Golden Age of IMS

Written by on May 2, 2017 in Opinion with 0 Comments

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There is no doubt that IMS has found its place and time, but it was a long time coming. This is, at least, the consensus among several speakers at the forthcoming IMS World Forum (23-24 May, Madrid). It is the 14th annual gathering.

It was VoLTE that, once the market realised how much they needed it, “ushered in the Golden Age of IMS”, according to John Bebawy, Business Development Director with Telus. “Originally it was deployed in the network without us really knowing its full potential. It was a bit of a sales pitch by vendors, to be honest”.

Bebawy believes the drive towards the real use of IMS came out of saturation. “We were looking at 4G to relieve the pressure”, says Bebawy, “and we wanted to migrate to LTE. But we had to maintain existing channels for voice and currently deployed IoT devices such as sensors. Voice drove it, but we are using IMS for SMS, as well as 911 services and WiFi calling, things like that”.

David Moro, who works in the Global CTO’s Office at Telefonica, agrees that it was voice that drove IMS. “We used it in fixed line voice initially”, says Moro, who is investing in VoLTE now, but looking to the future for opportunities. “Although the applications are not well-defined, we are, of course, looking forward to 5G and working with our partners. There are many things that you need 5G to support, high-definition video, virtual reality and so on. IMS will be critical”.

Moro sees some deployment of 5G in two years’ time, with a wider roll out about four years out. What he is keen to avoid is the legacy problem when 5G appears. “The problem with evolving technology is the legacy. With all these layers – 2G, 3G, 4G – it is not manageable from an operational and cost perspective. We want to avoid this issue in 5G. We have a programme to reduce the use of 2G, but there will be some applications, in machine to machine for instance. We cannot actually turn off 2G, but by 2020 we want to be at a sensible level”. Other challenges exist for Telefonica who has a large presence in Latin America. “The problem here is that there are a lot of handsets out there on the open market, so we have to support them, and they are 2G”.

Both Moro and Bebawy agree with Jan Riyk Vonk, a speaker from KPN, that IMS will be critical to develop and offer applications with partners. Vonk is convinced that doing so is not a ‘nice to have’ but “exactly what we need to be doing. OTT players are providing APIs on which you can build your own products, so must we”.

Bebawy sees that this idea allows partners to expand their ecosystems. “What is available on one network is then available on others, and it also helps justify and get a return on the huge IMS investment. Verizon span off an entire part of its network and opened it up to others on a pay as you go basis. Others, including Telus, are looking at this”.

The move towards telcos partnering to provide richer services, including richer services around voice is driving the IMS world and with 5G on the way, the potential becomes even greater.

Now that we have hit the ‘golden age’ of IMS, what more justification is needed to be in Madrid on 23-24 May to catch up with development and share your thoughts at the IMS World Forum.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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