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IMS Will Enable Many New Telco Services

Twelve months ago, ABI Research described IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) as a jet engine that would power telecom markets to a new level. A year later, that assessment still holds true, and IMS is on the verge of commercial reality.

According to a new study, fixed and mobile network operators will invest a total of $10.1 billion in IMS capital infrastructure over the next five years. This will yield a significant payoff, both in reduction of operating expenses and in the creation of new revenue from IP-based services. Worldwide, ABI Research forecasts that operators will generate $49.6 billion in service revenue from IMS-enabled applications in 2011.

"Rich voice services will represent the lion's share of IMS ARPU for fixed networks, but mobile operators will deploy a greater diversity of services over the next few years, including push-to-talk, interactive games, web browsing, rich voice, streaming content, and instant multimedia messaging," says ABI Research analyst Ian Cox. "In the past year we have seen concrete progress on formulating IMS migration strategies, including voice call continuity between fixed and mobile networks and integrating PBX features into the standards."

Cox further comments that "Progress is also being made on integrating IMS and web-based services and developing secure and reliable charging solutions for complex user sessions. But additional work is needed to formalise the relationship between IMS, service delivery platforms and session border controllers."

For users, says Cox, IMS will enable many new services, including VoIP, to be offered over SIP-enabled networks. Each service � instant messaging, for example � can be used at the same time as another service because the user will be able to see the "presence" of another user. It also allows users to have a single device which can be used on both fixed and wireless networks.

For vendors, IMS will allow specialist firms to develop applications and equipment independently of each other, secure in the knowledge that they will work together and can be deployed by any service provider. IMS enables new services to be introduced quickly, tried and discarded if they are not popular. A single database holds all subscriber information, leading to lower operating costs for multiple services over multiple access technologies.

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