One of the most prominent trends in telecom today is the general shift towards IP-based next generation networks, widely anticipated to culminate in the widespread rollout of IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) networks.
IMS rollout is the only logical conclusion of the current trend, as it answers key demands from both consumers and service providers. Many consumers are looking for a wider offering of content and services, more flexibility in where and how they access these services, and yet still expect to achieve this with the same QoS as on their home network.
Service providers can use IMS networks to answer these consumer demands and to deliver these services with greater efficiency over a converged IP network.
More importantly, providers can reshape their image entirely, moving beyond the role of a "bit-pipe" provider to become a high-value "one-stop-shop" provider for communications and services and media content.
However, service providers must keep in mind that in some respects, IMS rollout may be more delicate than that of other new services. In the early stages, there can often be pressure to rush to develop their provisioning and billing technology, just to be the first to offer a new service and gain an early market presence, with service assurance left as a priority for later stages.
In some cases in the past, this may have been sufficient, but this strategy could result in a major setback for IMS adoption. For example, when consumers first began using their home internet connections to log in to a free VoIP service, the service quality was unreliable, and that was understandable. However, with IMS, the QoS itself is part of what subscribers will be paying for. Service assurance must be a strategic consideration of any IMS rollout, just like provisioning and billing.
The challenge of providing IMS service assurance is a bit different from that of legacy networks, in that these solutions must not only be adapted to the IMS network architecture, but also to the IMS market.
For example, providers will have to satisfy a stricter demand for QoS from their IMS subscribers.