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January 22, 2009

Exciting Times for VoIP, IMS

By Greg Galitzine, Group Editorial Director


Comverse (News - Alert) provides software and systems designed to enable network-based messaging and content value-added services, converged billing and IP communications to over 500 communication service providers in more than 130 countries.
 
In a recent interview with Dickel Sooriah (News - Alert), Strategic Marketing Manager, Comverse Netcentrex Converged IP Communications, I asked about the current economic conditions and how they were impacting customers’ purchasing decisions.
 
Sooriah maintains a positive outlook, seeing past the dark financial clouds that have gathered. He sees exciting times ahead for our industry, pointing to the wealth of new advanced devices, the prevalence of high-speed broadband connections and the intersection of the worlds of telecom and social media.
 
 
GG: Do you think the recent financial woes on Wall Street might actually spur purchases of VoIP and related IP Communications technologies?
DS: We have very different types of customers and the trends we currently witness also vary depending on the geographical regions.
 
The current financial woes do not seem to affect on-going projects in emerging countries for network renewal or migration of telco legacy networks to next-generation VoIP and IMS. Those regions are, for the time being, still supported by large investments into broadband penetration either via Wireline technologies or wireless technologies such as WIMAX.
 
Comverse solutions create significant cost-efficiencies by using IP-based technology, shared infrastructure or platforms, common components — all enable operators to cut their operating expenses and improve margins. There are other solutions such as self-service that reduce customer service expenses. Therefore, Comverse solutions are more attractive in a financially-pressed market. In fact there are several very large carriers who are working with Comverse as the primary vendor in their business transformation processes.
 
GG: Are there any geographical differences in the way operators are looking into VoIP and/or IMS?
DS: In Europe, for example, where we are still the market leader in Hosted VoIP, we see very different trends between Western and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe we foresee that the current financial situation will spur further consolidation between fixed and mobile operators and therefore in IMS since convergence is still one of the main drivers behind IMS today. Almost all of the current leading operators have joined the RCS initiative in 2008 in an effort to work on better interoperability between different terminal vendors and IMS networks. Comverse as a member of the RCS initiative intends to bring a unique perspective to this group.
 
In Eastern Europe, operators are looking at migrating legacy networks and this is happening at the same time as those markets are undergoing deregulation and high broadband penetration, so VoIP and IMS make perfect sense for them.
 
GG: How would Comverse’s products and solutions help carriers save money?
DS: Comverse’s value is in its unique portfolio and the fact that we are leaders in the enablers for the two most revenue generating applications which are Voice and Messaging. Those applications now need to be mixed and matched on different devices and in different converged billing bundles. Over 30% of our customers are now multi-service and convergent. Comverse today is in a unique position to help operators launch multi-service bundles very quickly. And we will help them save money in the way we are integrating our communications and billing solutions on top of IMS. The existing solutions are designed to support single service silos. The cost savings for operators will come in the cost-effectiveness of a marketing approach for defining and introducing offerings across many different channels.
 
GG: As a result of the recent losses on Wall Street, do you see any long term ramifications that might negatively impact the IP Communications market?
DS: It is still very early in 2009, but it seems likely that consumer spending will take a hit and IT purchases from businesses, which were looking into Hosted Centrex solutions or unified communications might be delayed.
 
We continue to believe that from an IP Communications perspective, the impact will affect the time-to-market, even though the strategic decisions have already been made. Those predictions are especially true for western countries but with ripple effects on Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC countries). Those regions usually show double or triple digit growth for next-generation spending. The worst case scenario would be slowing growth.
 
GG: How do you see the future of the communications industry and how do you see Comverse’s role in that industry?
DS: Putting the gloomy outlook aside, these still are exciting times for our industry. We have the new advanced devices the high speed broadband connections and the offerings that make them appealing. This industry will now be closely intertwined with new Web applications provided that the economic models of the telecoms world and social media, for instance, support each other. On a more down-to-earth basis, we think transformation will still be the key word in the years to come and Comverse intends to be the perfect partner to help operators launch new innovative services that take advantage of richer web applications and also help in migrating those legacy networks.

Greg Galitzine is editorial director for TMC’s (News - Alert) IP Communications suite of products, including TMCnet.com. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Greg Galitzine




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