The integration of the IPsphere Forum with the TM Forum is further wind in the TMF’s service-delivery initiative sails.

The TM Forum announced the integration of the IPsphere, which is dedicated to enabling the "Business of IP," on Sept. 9. The two groups held a webcast explaining the integration yesterday, Sept. 18.

IPsphere Chairman Todd Shimizu, who also serves as director, technology office, at Juniper Networks, focused his remarks on an important IPsphere field trial, the first-phase results of which will be discussed at the TM Forum’s Management World event in Orlando, FL, Nov. 16-20.

"It’s the most ambitious implementation we’ve undertaken so far," Shimizu said. "All three of the major geographical theatres are involved in the trial."

Among the service providers engaged in the trial are Telus (Canada), Telenor (Norway), Telstar (Australia) and DT (Germany). Also involved are the European Internet research organization i2CAT and three vendors: Juniper Networks, NetOne System (Japan) and Red Zinc (Ireland).

An indicator of the kinds of technologies that the IP sphere champions is the specification for Interworking Session Services and Resource Management (SSRM), published in February, which details a method for guaranteeing quality of service (QoS) on IP services that cross service-provider boundaries. Student or teacher? The cable industry’s interest in the nearly 700-company-member TM Forum grew after the Forum absorbed the Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) organization in May 2007. The IPDR standard is contained within the DOCSIS Operations Support System Interface Specification.

Whether cable operators are teachers or students (or both) in limited, ongoing collaboration with the telco-heavy Forum, however, is an open question.

Among the 160-plus confirmed speakers for the Management World event listed on the TM Forum Web site are four who hail from MSOs: a director from Cox Communications, another from Time Warner Cable, a wireless technology executive from Videotron and a senior director of business transformation from Rogers Communications.

As usual, Rogers is something of a crossover. Actually, one draw for this event is keynoter (one of four) Jerry Brace, who joined Rogers as senior vice president for information technology in February, after serving as vice president of customer billing services at Sprint Nextel.

Brace is responsible for IT applications, development, infrastructure and operations for Rogers wireless, cable, Internet and home phone services.

Rogers is probably in a position to teach. As is Cox, whose SVP and CIO Scott Hatfield drew this line between Cox’s approach and that of the traditional telco in an interview for CT’s IT Executive this past May:

"When I was hired, I was explicitly told that Cox wanted no part of the big-budget legacy environments that the telcos build for themselves," Hatfield said. "We saw the pitfalls of that approach and have instead focused on using much more modern and more flexible architectures to create a new communications ecosystem."

That cable’s back office remains a work in progress, on the other hand, is also no secret. For more from that perspective, see "Back Office, Front Burner," by pureIntegration’s Edwin Smith in the current issue of CT.

– Jonathan Tombes

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

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