TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: Building It Out

by Ninad Mehta

Now that we understand some of the new services enabled by NGN-IMS, lets see what are the other approaches for building the next generation networks.

For VoIP, the 2 major vendor approaches are SoftSwitch based point solutions versus IMS based approach. The major benefit of IMS is that it provides for much more than just voice applications. As we covered during the TechTalk on Monday, given that both Applications and Endpoints are converging, IMS delivers much higher benefits for deploying VoIP compared to Softswitch based point solutions. The main benefit of IMS is that network resources are shared across a wide array of applications. In fact, many Softswitch vendors in the market are trying to reposition their products within the IMS framework.

So what are some of the killer applications that absolutely require IMS? First of all, there arent too many applications that cant be built using Softswitch based point solutions today. A LightReading article on Killer Apps for IMS (from Supercomm 2005) puts this very nicely:

There is no single killer application for carriers wanting to roll out converged services using IMS.

In fact, what is becoming clear here in Chicago is that in order to justify the cost of rolling out IP multimedia subsystems (IMS) carriers will likely want to see several applications that can improve their average revenue per user (ARPU).
IMS, you may recall, is envisaged as a unified architecture that can support a range of IP-based services for both packet- and circuit-switched networks and employ a range of different wireless and fixed access mechanisms. The big question is: which services and why?

“It’s very hard to find a single application that you can roll out using IMS that you couldn’t implement without it,” says Alan Stoddard, general manager of converged networks at Nortel Networks Ltd. “It only makes… [financial] sense when you get to the third or fourth application; it doesn’t make any sense for just one.”

So, what are the applications that will encourage carriers to adopt IMS?

For next generation services, another major competitor to IMS might be Microsofts Connected Services Framework. In a June 05 story, LightReading reported:

AT&T and Microsoft Corp. today announced a groundbreaking strategic alliance that is expected to revolutionize the development, deployment and delivery of next-generation Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications services.

The alliance leverages the far-reaching AT&T global IP network, which can be accessed from 149 countries, and Microsoft Connected Services Framework, an integrated software solution that enables the rapid delivery of converged communications services across multiple networks and end-user devices. Using Connected Services Framework, AT&T will be able to dynamically create new network-based IP services and applications that can be deployed when and where they are needed.

So what can Microsofts CSF do? According to the same article:

Microsoft Connected Services Framework is an integrated software solution for building and managing complex services using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web service interfaces. Microsoft Connected Services Framework allows telecommunications operators to aggregate, provision and manage converged communications services for their subscribers, regardless of network or device.

Back in February 2005, LightReading had reported BT, Bell Canada and Celcom Malaysia are deploying the Microsoft Connected Services Framework to facilitate the delivery of services to their customers.

Tomorrow, we will revisit some of the new business models that will emerge in the coming years once carriers start deploying IMS.

Tomorrow: IMS Impact

[Ninad Mehta works at Lucent in New Jersey. The views expressed in this column are his own.]

TECH TALK Next-Generation Networks+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.