Global mobile operators consider IP Exchange (IPX) to be an essential ingredient for next-generation wireless services, according to a new study commissioned by Sybase Inc. subsidiary Sybase 365.
The findings were based on an online poll by Questex in May and June of more than 350 global operators. In addition, information was gleaned from one-on-one interviews with 10 respondents plus the GSM Association. Operators included in the survey represented Asia Pacific (44.5 percent); Europe, Middle East and Africa (25.2 percent); North America (26.3 percent); and South America (3.4 percent).
“Despite the interest in IPX as a next-generation play, operators also report benefits on today’s congested networks. The majority rate the security and manageability of IPX as the main plusses; however, operators are also excited by the potential to cut costs by reducing the number of connections needed,” says William Dudley, group director/Operator Services Products at Sybase 365. “Operators see potential in IPX to enable them to bring over-the-top services including multimedia and other high-bandwidth content, and social networking into the fold."
The Sybase 365 network serves wireless carriers, financial institutions and enterprises. It provides its customers with a variety of offerings in SMS, MMS, GRX, IPX interoperability, end-to-end mobile commerce solutions, innovative mCRM, mobile marketing and content-delivery services. Sybase 365 processes more than 1.5 billion messages per day, reaching 900 operators and 5.2 billion subscribers around the world.
Gearing Up For IPX
The majority of operators surveyed (63.5 percent) said they plan to deploy IPX during the next one to three years. Sybase believes these findings “underscore the firm grasp of the benefits and opportunities for IPX that operators have, as well as growing demand for an infrastructure that can securely and reliably connect multiple operators with over-the-top (OTT) services, enterprises and cloud services.”
IPX management and security capabilities rank highest as prime benefits for current network owners (24 percent). More than half of operators surveyed agreed IPX networks make it easier to deploy end-to-end IP services, to cut costs, and to guarantee quality and ease the migration to 4G networks. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) rank highly the ability to consolidate multiple connections.
“Our study shows that while operators will be relying on IPX to handle roaming, IP signaling and streaming services on next-generation networks in the early days, in the longer term, when more 4G networks are live, operators will also leverage IPX to facilitate expanded voice interconnect," Dudley adds. “We firmly believe IPX will become a centralized infrastructure across service providers and across solutions for the rest of the decade and beyond.”
IPX Opportunities, Deployments
Results of the Sybase 365 study also show operators will look to IPX service providers to offer multimedia services, Voice over IP (VoIP) and HD voice. Operators in all regions are most interested in bringing high-bandwidth or multimedia services into their service offerings, followed by social networks and financial services.
One operator surveyed noted that offering differentiated services is one of the key elements being considered for IPX networks. “Internet players are always included in such open initiatives because they are designed to give customers more choice in terms of the services they can enjoy,” the unnamed carrier offered, adding IPX will also “offer operators improved flexibility to deliver new services.”
Nearly eight out of 10 operators surveyed (79.3 percent) who say they have deployed IPX currently use it for voice services, with data roaming next (59.5 percent), citing ease of use and scalability as major benefits. A minority of respondents claimed to be using IPX for inter-MSC connectivity, signaling, enhanced GRX, MPLS, IP transit, L3 VPN, BGP peering, CDN and IP data.
The survey also found a significant number of IPX networks already in place, with the Asia Pacific region leading the way in terms of deployments to date (32 percent), as seen with the recent IPX deployment by Total Access Communication PLC (dtac) in Thailand. Additionally, the study revealed that service providers of all types – wireless, wireline, wholesale, cable and integrated carriers – already have deploying IPX.
Long Term Evolution (LTE) is expected to be a major driver of IPX deployments moving forward; many 3G operators are committed to LTE and are planning to start rolling LTE out in the next two to three years, according to the study. There is a clear correlation between the number of operators planning to deploy IPX within the next one to three years (41 percent) and those who believe IPX will become essential to operating 4G networks in the same timeframe (45 percent).
According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 218 operators in 81 countries now are investing in LTE, of which 166 networks are in various stages of deployment and 52 in technology trials. Globally, 24 networks have launched commercially in 16 countries. As more networks launch LTE, improved international and inter-network connectivity supported by IPX will only serve to accelerate worldwide LTE subscriber numbers, expected to reach more than 303 million by 2014.