John C. Tanner
22 Oct 2013
As LTE networks spread and demand for high-speed data services continues to expand rapidly, IPX deployments have accelerated. The IPX market has evolved significantly over the last two years, which is reflected in our survey that shows a majority of respondents (56%) are now connected to an IPX network compared to only 30% two years ago.
We also found a higher level of clarity among operators about the perceived benefits of moving to IPX. Top of the list is a private managed and secure network, followed by support for different commercial models, support for LTE roaming as well as lower costs. Most operators have developed specific requirements and expectations for IPX.
But as the markets and network deployments continue to evolve, so have the definition and complexity of the role that IPX plays. There are different points of view on what it is to be “IPX-ready” vs having a true IPX connection. Besides differences in terminology, some telcos are still in the evaluation stage because they feel the IPX market is cluttered and are waiting for consolidation and more clarity.
Despite these obstacles, the industry is definitely leaning toward one connection for multiple (if not all) services to both simplify interconnectivity and reduce costs. Voice of course is by far the dominant service running through IPX, with 80% of those that have connected to an IPX network running voice. But a wide range of other services is now also being connected via IPX, including SMS, video and Diameter signaling.
The IP nature of LTE means that IPX will pretty much be required for LTE roaming and interconnect (almost half of those surveyed said they will run LTE roaming over an IPX network). And although just 19% of operators currently connect all their roaming destinations via Diameter hub, that is likely to increase sharply as many in the industry say Diameter is necessary to quickly and cost-effectively scale and rebuild connections with roaming partners.
How each service is deployed over IPX varies and is still open for discussion. But the medium-term outlook is indeed bright, with half of those that haven’t yet connected to an IPX network planning to make the move over the next one to three years. That growth will be driven by the 53% of telcos that have yet to deploy LTE as well as the 46% of operators that are planning but haven’t launched VoLTE.
This article is a summary of Telecom Asia's research report "Navigating complexity: the quest for true IPX"