Tuesday, May 01, 2007

IMS R4? - When is an IMS not an IMS? 

Mobile Operators are currently implementing 3GPP Release 4 - some vendors call this also IMS Release 4. Interestingly IMS was introduced in 3GPP in Release 5 and improved in R6 and now in R7, which will be frozen in June 2007. ETSI TISPAN has finished R1 last year and is currently working on R2. Since they now will merge with 3GPP, R2 may never be finished as such and the first complete IMS will be 3GPP R8 frozen somewhere in 2009 and deployed in 2011. This will approx. also be the time when IMS mobile handsets finally will be widely available.

So what may happen? Some service providers will implement SIP servers and their customers will live happy with them and the available user equipment for the next 4 years.

Others will implement expensive "IMS" R4 (softswitches), spend much money again to upgrade to R5, R6, R7 and R8. Since no mobile equipment is available, this will mostly be fixed line operators doing PSTN replacement - i.e. investing into a shrinking market.

More about IMS R4 see Brough Turner "Lessons learned implementing IMS" (short) and the full story here.

His takeaway:

Operators await 3GPP Release 7. At least anecdotally, several operators have suggested that 3GPP Release 7 is the first complete, stable, and consistent version they will fully deploy.

He is not saying what operators - I assume he means mobile operators (talking about R7).

Some fixed operators are not waiting - they are planning to deploy the incomplete ETSI TISPAN R1.

One could believe the whole IMS idea is a plot by the mobile operators to kill the wireline operators completely.


Richard - I haven't and don't buy the whole IMS thing. We conducted a lab trial, and it was a nightmare fromt he start. IMS = I AM MESSY!

The only other thing that I would add to your post is, once the operators move to SIP for, if they haven't already, then implemented IMS will seem even more moronic. If the situation is a packet green-field, then IMS stands a chance via force-fed marketing koolaid!
In one operator I worked for before, my understanding was that R4 was a path to get rid of ATM and TDM transmission links, not much more, but no less either.

So it is a slow move to packet based transport ...

Control plane remains essentially the same as before, with a few enhancements and misbehaviours resolution ...
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