IMS Gets More Real

An IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS) vendor matrix released this week from ABI Research put Ericsson at the top, with the total number of deals being a strong driver.

Based on a report completed in January, the matrix is a rearview-mirror look at IMS business and investment in 2007. Putting Ericsson at the top was its lead in commercial IMS contracts at 50, said ABI Senior Research Analyst Nadine Manjaro. Its nearest competitors – as best Manjaro could sort out the contracts from trials – had 30 or fewer.

"Ericsson is very clear about how many contracts they have," Manjaro said.

The matrix plots 10 companies’ combined scores (using root mean square) for innovation and implementation. Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens followed Ericsson in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.

Ericcson maintained its No. 1 position from the previous year. Alcatel-Lucent jumped to second from sixth position. The other vendors in this ranking include Motorola (4), Huawei Technologies (5), Cisco Systems (6), Nortel Networks (7), Acme Packet (8), Thomson (9) and Tekelec (10). Real deployments ABI hedges these numbers with several caveats. First innovation is a function of a vendor’s overall, not IMS-specific, R&D budget as well as its announced (not undisclosed) partnerships. Likewise, contracts were all public, not confidential.

That said, Ericsson’s large number of announced contracts speaks both to its leadership and the growth of IMS as a live technology. Ericsson, for instance, is the sole supplier and systems integrator for an IMS platform that has been implemented by China Network, the official fixed-telecom service partner for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Other IMS activity is easy to find. Alcatel Lucent announced earlier this year that it was helping SureWest Communications deploy an IMS-based VoIP platform in Northern California. Nokia Siemens, which acquired IMS subscriber database management specialist Apertio in January for $205 million, includes the transEuropean TeliaSonera and Taiwanese Chunghwa Telecom among its IMS customers.

Even in cable, this long talked-about technology has made inroads. According to this interview in the February issue of Communications Technology with Cox Communications Executive Director for Voice Technology and Engineering Bruce McLeod (scroll to the bottom of the PacketCable article), the Atlanta-based MSO is aiming to launch IMS-powered services in three markets by the end of the third quarter 2008.

Cost structure is at the heart of what MSOs such as Cox are doing with IMS. "What’s the driver," we asked McLeod, "apps or infrastructure?"

"It’s really the cost of delivering apps," McLeod said. Trending mobile As befits a convergent technology, bundling is increasingly the way that IMS is sold. "Huawei combined a lot of their wireless offerings with IMS," Manjaro said. "Whatever their contacts were, they had an IMS element."

"Previously (IMS) was more fixed," she said. "IMS is difficult to integrate. (So) one trend is combining IMS with infrastructure and 3G deployment and managed services," she said.

Increasingly critical to versions 6, 7 and 8 of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), IMS will become more tightly linked with mobile technologies, Manjaro predicted. The overall context remains telephony-focused.

"You see highly voice-over-IP related deployments of IMS globally," she said.

– Jonathan Tombes

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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