IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS) is touted as the means for delivering a variety of communications services to telecom operators’ customers regardless of their network. It is seen as a major driver behind the convergence of wireline and wireless networks, providing a technology-agnostic mechanism for voice and multimedia based services.
The telecoms industry is not, however, ready to do away with existing network investments and build an integrated, IMS-driven network from scratch. Rather operators are aiming for a smooth transition that will exploit existing legacy technologies before moving to IMS over Next Generation Networks and 3G networks.
This approach sees IMS as inextricably linked to legacy infrastructure. The existing management systems can work to simplify the introduction of IMS throughout a network, and should not be seen as mutually exclusive technologies.
For this approach to work it is essential that the operators’ management systems are flexible. The road to IMS and the transition to IP networks will demand that operators’ Operational Support Systems (OSS) can:
* Plan, build and maintain network servers to support the increased traffic and Quality of Service (QoS) IMS will entail
* Respond to market pressures through catalogue-driven service composition
* Gradually introduce IMS embedded in traditional services
* Manage key customer and service identifier information and their mappings to legacy PSTN numbers
* Meet customer demands for on- and offline charging for IMS services
Telcos need to be able to manage IMS services and networks alongside non-IMS legacy networks in the same unified environment. This will ensure a smooth transition to IMS without the need to redesign management systems. Piloting IMS capabilities on legacy technologies can also bring about efficiencies as the need to radically overhaul the network software is removed, and operators’ OSS can be effectively future-proofed against the demands both IMS and fixed-mobile convergence will have upon it.
IMS will have a variety of ramifications for each different facet of a telco’s OSS software:
* Mediation and charging – IMS will see the rise of integrated online content and services while at the same time enabling accurate charging of customers for these services
* Activation and provisioning – Number porting, virtual operator services, third-party content, configuration to handsets and mixed IP and mobile services will all need to be activated effectively
* Number and identifier management – IMS subscribers will have multiple user and service identities which need to be mapped to user accounts and service identifiers such as PSTN and mobile numbers
* Network inventory – There will be a raft of new network demands from new services to new equipment and increased capacity. It is essential to track the dependency of IMS services on existing layered networks to ensure QoS
IMS will drive innovation through new services and products, but for operators to take full advantage of this, and to migrate their networks successfully, it is essential their OSS is up to the challenge.
About Comptel Corporation
Comptel Corporation is a global market leader in convergent mediation, charging and provisioning software solutions. Comptel solutions support the core business processes of operators and service providers by generating concrete savings that allow for new business models and sustained consumer loyalty. The Comptel Link product portfolio includes Comptel EventLinkÂ® for event mediation and usage data management, Comptel InstantLink for automated service provisioning and activation and Comptel OnlineLink for on-line and pre-delivery charging for non-voice services. The company has made over 240 deliveries in 75 countries worldwide including leading operators from across different market areas, such as AIS, AmÃ©rica MÃ³vil, Bharti, Brasil Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, mmo2, Saudi Telecom, SWIFT, TelefÃ³nica, TIM, T-Mobile International, TeliaSonera, and Vodafone. Comptel was established in 1986 and is listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange (CTL1V) in Finland.