IMS long has been touted as a technology that delivers value over the IP network. Now, Lucent has helped make this a reality by developing a set of products and services specifically designed to assist service providers roll out blended lifestyle services.
Utilizing Lucent's own IMS solution, service providers can offer blended services across any access type while delivering differentiated quality-of-service (QoS), even when using multiple content providers.
"Lucent has developed an infrastructure that expands standard IMS solutions," explained Michael Cooper, director of global marketing and strategy at Lucent Technologies Converged Core Solutions. "The focus is on delivering services, not just the infrastructure. The services sit on top of the IMS structure."
Cooper added that one key differentiator is that Lucent's IMS solution works on both fixed and wireless networks, which allows for service providers to more conveniently and efficiently deliver blended services to customers. "Service providers need to add real value, not just voice, over their IP networks," he added. "Our approach has been to look at what the service provider has to do and try to drive more minutes of use on the network, to derive more value from the data and voice convergence on the network."
Blended services are "always-on" applications that can move from one function to another and also move across different communication devices via a single service provider. An example would be changing from an instant messaging application to a voice or video conference, or sharing streaming video while on a voice call. Lucent research shows there is pent-up demand for such blended services and that there is a willingness by users to pay for the convenience of them.
Some service providers are starting to lose customers to large content aggregation sites such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Network (MSN) that offer voice, data and video services. And many service providers see their customers dropping voice lines as broadband offerings expand, especially in the United States where a variety of Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) initiatives are underway.
Lucent's unique IMS solution allows service providers to better compete in this rapidly changing marketplace because it can tie together or blend services on a cost-effective basis over different platforms.
At the heart of Lucent's IMS solution is its Service Broker product. It provides a framework and API for service interaction control and integrates IMS and non-IMS services such as IPTV, instant messaging, email and WAP. "One good thing about it is that Service Broker is that it is very easily programmable in Java and very scalable and flexible," Cooper explained. "It supports many interfaces. It can talk to both IMS and non-IMS domains."
Service Broker reduces the complexity of managing interactions between applications and enables the rollout of new service offering on a targeted per-customer basis.
Another important element of the Lucent IMS solution is Lucent's Resource Management product. This is an application-driven, centralized control for core, aggregation and access elements. It allows for consistent, reliable QoS delivery across all devices.
Yet a third significant component is Lucent's United Subscriber Data Server (USDS), a single database system within the IMS solution that unifies (both physically and virtually) subscriber data. It provides for simpler authentication and authorization, mobility management and subscriber profile management. The fact that USDS provides for single provisioning helps lower customer-care expenses. "It creates virtual records that can be extended to bring the data wherever it is needed," Cooper explained.