With the telecom industry converging to best take advantage of the benefits, efficiencies, and capabilities of IP service creation, the boundaries of wireless, wireline, and cable are narrowing on an almost daily basis.
Most of our colleagues in the telecom industry have embraced this new era of convergence by developing bundled products and applications, and offering them as traditional services — such as phone services over broadband (VoIP and WiFi), and multimedia programming, vis-à-vis TV and movie contents (IPTV). The future of these new age communications — one without traditional boundaries — is here to stay, and the Internet is the vehicle driving it to the next level.IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) is the means by which telcos can utilize the power of IP to offer consumers new applications and services that leverage packet communications and the Internet phenomena. Already, wireless mobile groups have initiated the basic architecture for new services utilizing multimedia, which are delivered to consumer handsets, as well as the development of IMS architecture.
However, as much as consumer demand is driving the need for these innovative new bundled services and applications, there are a number of issues and conflicts already facing IMS deployment. On one hand, challenges such as integration, billing, OSS, network peering, enhanced applications development, and consumer education (is logical for any new technology), with new regulatory challenges, and the burning question as to whether new service delivered and applications utilizing the Internet architecture should be taxed, on the other hand.
History has proved that there are always challenges facing new technology and convergence — such as the transition from black-and-white TV to color, to digital, to HDTV. Today, these same challenges will inevitably affect the new era of telephone and cable services.
Also important to note, is that there are additional obstacles inherent in this transition that have nothing to do with technology. A chief concern: how will the different segments of the telecommunications industry cope with this new group of business challenges which enable everyone to offer what has been considered traditional services, and the plethora of new services as well? As such, wireless companies can offer TV broadcast, wireline companies can offer both cable/IPTV, as well as traditional phone services, and cable, with its high-speed Internet capabilities, can offer both local and long-distance phone services.
As you can clearly see, the traditional boundaries to which our industry is accustomed are disappearing. Some telecom groups may not be ready for this new technology, but the bottom line is that the Internet and broadband have whet consumers’ appetite for new and enhanced applications, which is driving IMS deployment and the financial success on which Wall Street is betting with the current wave of new financing and IPOs.
Time is of the essence both for vendors and service providers to develop and deploy IMS products and services — both for residential and enterprise business applications. There is a new group of non-traditional Next Gen Service Providers coming fast and consumers are embracing them.
What does all this mean? Simply put: 2006 is just the beginning — not the end — of the Internet phenomena.
Michael Khalilian is the president and chairman of the IMS Forum.
For membership information, or to participate in IMS Forum working groups, plugfest and membership info please visit www.IMSForum.org or contact Michael Khalilian MKhalilian@IMSForum.org.