IMS has gained substantial momentum as the standardized architecture for the convergence of communications service delivery. But many early adopters have taken a network-centric approach to the benefits of IMS deployment rather than taking a holistic view of the strategic opportunities.
Global industry analyst Stratecast estimates that capital expenditure on IMS infrastructure will rise from $179 million in 2006 to more than $10 billion in 2010. Informa takes a more conservative stance, forecasting worldwide capital spending on IMS infrastructure to reach $4.5 billion in the same period.
Others believe there will be a delay in market acceptance until the success of early adopters becomes visible, followed by a significant ramp up in 2009 or 2010.
Most industry commentators accept that virtually every major telco is now including IMS in one form or another in strategic planning. The industry has, for some time, been working towards the adoption of triple play, quadruple play and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) - all of which are enabled by the potential of IMS.
IMS helps standardize protocols to eliminate proprietary technology and enable interoperability for all IP-based services, and provides the opportunity for ubiquitous access for users regardless of service, terminal type or location.
Telcos are undergoing a period of dynamic change in the provision of services, so they need to have strategies to react to change effectively - and adoption of IMS is a key component. A concern is that current approaches to IMS may end up missing significant opportunities for the future.
The first consideration is that IMS is only linked with the short-term issues of deploying new services cost-effectively. Many service providers believe IMS is purely a network engineering issue and their IMS adoption business case is only based on operational expenses reduction for network and service management.
If cost reduction is the basis for the business case, then IMS adoption and the resulting competitive strategies will proceed incrementally at the pace of normal equipment replacement cycles.
While network consolidation and opex savings are admirable objectives, new competitive threats from the internet-based world are fast emerging.