The hosted model means the operator can acquire IMS expertise early on without having to make a major upfront investment
Without a doubt the communications industry is undergoing tremendous change. Convergence has moved from theory to practice surprisingly quickly. Real converged services are coming off the drawing board and being launched. At the same time, the industry is seeing merger and acquisition activity intensify as providers seek to bring together wireless, wire-line and broadband services and operations.
Navigating through these changes presents the industry with huge challenges. Quite simply, there is almost too much to be done in too short a timeframe.
IP multimedia subsystems (IMS) for fixed and mobile networks is a technology solution that is well suited to reconcile the need to build a communications business around convergence at a time of extreme competition that is eroding customer retention and profitability.
Access agnostic and IP-based, operators are finding that IMS for fixed and mobile services is the right business machinery for running a converged communications business because it enables easier roll-out of new services, which are more compelling and capitalize on the merging of mobile, fixed and Internet domains. This can include leveraging of VoIP over broadband as the basis for hybrid service packages.
What is more, because IMS exploits IP and other open standards like SIP, new and existing services can be brought to market faster and more cost effectively. This gives the operator the freedom to price services more competitively while protecting its profit margins.
Implementing IMS does present operators with challenges. While the technology brings clear benefits in efficiency and cost, the actual services that will drive usage are in their early stage. Among the first services that IMS will facilitate are personalized VoIP, video sharing, push-to-talk, push-to-content and interactive gaming.
Operators also need to make sure that their IMS implementations optimize their advantages in breaking down the traditional back-office silos and create a single platform approach that maximizes re-use and tailoring of common and bespoke elements. There is now a real recognition of how IMS should allow marketing and technical teams to work more closely and be more responsive to new opportunities.
Whatever uncertainty might exist, it is not enough to stop a concerted movement toward IMS. The technology is widely accepted as the best way forward. However, discovering sooner how IMS performs under real market conditions and what services would be revenue winners would give operators an understanding of what convergence means in concrete terms.
A solution that is gaining in strength is hosted IMS for fixed and mobile services, which gives an operator an opportunity to test and experiment with IMS. It is feasible to use hosted IMS to run various pilots simultaneously to compare different pricing structures. It is an approach that allows operators to build up some early experience about what IMS can do for the business bottom-line. In advance of an IMS implementation going fully live, hosting of IMS services also means services can be brought to market earlier.
The advantage of hosted IMS is the practical knowledge that an operator can gain in parallel with the implementation.