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IMS Enabling Multimendia Convergence

IMS has quickly become one of the hottest areas in the telecommunications industry. It is a complex topic with profound implications because it is central to the long-term future of telecommunications. IMS stands for IP Multimedia Subsystem, a term coined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for an architecture and associated set of standards for delivery of IP-based multimedia services over 3G wireless networks. It was called a subsystem because it was a part of the overall architecture directions for 3G networks. In-Stat believes that it is more appropriate now to think of IMS as an overall IP Multimedia System that consists of a unified architecture, end-user devices with IP multimedia functionality, and the systems integration necessary to deliver IP multimedia services in the most effective way across wireline and wireless environments.

IMS enables wireline/wireless multimedia convergence. The convergence is intended to occur at three levels: 1) convergence of multimedia, that is, voice, data, video, communications for the end-user; 2) seamless communications between wireline and wireless users; and 3) a single architecture for service providers that offer both wireline and wireless services that will enable 1) and 2). The term �fixed/mobile convergence� is broadly used to mean many things, such as dual-mode VoIP over Wi-Fi/cellular handsets or forwarding a call to a cell phone when a call comes to your wireline phone. IMS is really the central element of fixed/mobile convergence since it will enable all such integrated wireline/wireless applications and unite the architectures and business strategies of wireline and wireless service providers.

IMS is the long-term goal of wireline/wireless integration and convergence. There will be a gradual evolution to IMS, which can be viewed as occurring in three phases. The first phase is service providers selling bundles of wireline and wireless services to consumers and businesses. This phase has already occurred. The second phase describes the convergence that is occurring in wide-area connectivity networks and access networks: convergence of the traffic (data, voice, video) from multiple wireline and wireless networks onto a common IP/MPLS backbone network to reduce service provider capital and operations costs, and providing end-users integrated broadband access service. This phase is underway. In the third phase, service providers evolve from their broadband access infrastructures and converged wide-area IP connectivity networks to an overall IMS converged wireline/wireless architecture to offer a broad range of IP-based multimedia services seamlessly between any set of wireline and wireless end-users.

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