The right time for IPX

Joseph Waring
Telecom Asia

The promise of IPX pushed by the GSMA appears on the surface to be the solution to all carriers' ills - all services over one connection, better control, improved QoS and transparency. It moves beyond a standalone MPLS backbone and guarantees end-to-end SLAs across IPX providers. But there is where the challenge starts - how do opeartors claiming they are IPX compliant manage SLAs across peering agreements with other IPX provider?

IP eXchange (IPX) was the key talking point at the GSMA's annual Asia-Pacific gathering of roaming and interconnect representatives in Bangkok in September. A handful of wholesale carriers and vendors touted the benefits of a single connection to deliver multiple services.

According to an Ovum report earlier in the year, the IPX Community has 22 members and 14 operators have implemented IPX. But the report went to say uptake has been slower than initially expected. While there's a lot of talk about IPX, we haven't seen massive announcements because many operators aren't fully ready (they lack a SIP core, for example).

Another reason is the lack of compelling applications requiring a quality of service that couldn't be supported on TDM infrastructure. That is now changing with the push to HD voice.

The renewed interest in IPX is driven in large part by the expansion of IP in the core, so more traffic is migrating away from traditional interconnects toward IP-based connections. There is enough IP infrastructure in place now that there's starting to be a critical mass effect.

Jayesh Easwaramony, Frost & Sullivan's VP of ICT practice, said the recent attention is primarily a result of the transition from voice-centric networks to data-centric networks, with a surge in connected devices and increased IP in many networks.

"With the transition to LTE, data roaming and interconnect will be a significant issue. In addition, with increased emphasis on customer experience management, IPX provides the ability for operators to guarantee QoS on their and other operator networks and there is a lot of possibilities on data roaming - prepaid, real-time monitoring, etc."

John Wick, VP of network services for Syniverse Technologies, agrees. "Operators are discovering that by consolidating legacy networks onto a single IPX network, they benefit from cost reductions while meeting existing connectivity needs with the flexibility to prepare and adopt to future technologies such as LTE."

Operators also attracted to the IPX concept as they start to prepare to move to an all-IP ecosystem.

"At some point, the IPX, it is said, will replace the global SS7 cloud - especially as operators, both fixed and mobile, slowly transition to all-IMS based infrastructure, rather than SS7," said William Dudley, Sybase 365's group director of product management.

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