The quest for true IPX

John C. Tanner
22 Oct 2013
Meanwhile, May was a particularly busy month for IPX activity:
  • The GSMA and i3forum launched a deployment initiative involving live commercial pilots for voice traffic over IPX conducted by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, TeliaSonera and Vodafone. Both organizations said the pilots will “pave the way for the technical and commercial agreements necessary to use IPX to interconnect any voice services”, and provide “a major steppingstone toward interoperable communications services such as VoLTE and RCS.”
  • AMS-IX Hong Kong (established by Hutchison Global Communications and the Amsterdam Internet Exchange) launched an Inter-IPX service to allow IPX providers to peer IP traffic at the local level.
  • TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) launched its IPX service, with 200 PoPs and support for TSIC roaming and signaling and VoIPX, with LTE signaling services and “a comprehensive suite of additional IPX services” to follow later in 2013.
  • Ooredoo in Qatar launched what it said was the first IPX enabled network in the Middle East using Tata Communications’ IPX+ platform. Voice is the first app to be run on the IPX, with signaling, data roaming (GRX and IPX) and LTE roaming on the service roadmap.
With the bustle of activity on the IPX front, we decided to revisit the state of IPX in the mobile sector and gauge its progress. To what extent are operators taking advantage of IPX services? What value do they see in IPX? What services are they running on IPX? What services would they like to run on it?
And if they’re not using IPX, what are they waiting for (besides perhaps an LTE license)? The short answer is: more operators are using IPX – but it’s still early days as operators work out their LTE strategies and try to sort through what is, at the moment, a confusing landscape of IPX services.
Key findings:
  • Over half of survey respondents say they are connected to an IPX.
  • Many operators are still at least one to three years away from deploying IPX – partly because it’s too soon, and partly because the IPX services market is cluttered with players sending mixed messages over just what does and doesn’t count as an IPX connection.
  • However, a number of operators feel 2013 will be the year IPX takes off as LTE proliferates, demand for roaming support increases and new services come online.
  • Voice remains the most common service running over IPX, but other up-and-coming services include SMS, video and GRX.
  • It’s still early days for LTE roaming and Diameter signaling, with a majority of operators looking at other options besides IPX to handle LTE roaming.
  • Many operators see potential value in VoLTE and are more likely to use IPX as an interconnect solution but still see VoLTE as a near-future technology.
  • Overall, operators have been slow to adopt RCS services, but deployments and trials are happening, and many see it as a potential source of new revenue and a ticket to competing with OTT services. However, the key word is “potential” – many operators aren’t yet ready to bank on RCS just yet.
  • A number of operators are looking at offering QoS in the RAN for latency-sensitive services like VoIP and video, but almost half of respondents have no plans to implement it, as the technology is too new. And wholesaling RAN QoS to OTT players is, for now, right out.


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