RealTime IT News

Verizon Fears IMS Will 'Widow' Current Apps

To bridge what Verizon Wireless sees as a gulf between current and future multimedia applications, the carrier today unveiled Advances to IP Multimedia Subsystem, or A-IMS.

The new initiative expands on the standards-based IMS assumption that multimedia, such as VoIP, has already leapt to SIP.

IMS helps carriers integrate multimedia, simplifying both new product rollouts, as well as billing, security and policies.

Until now much of its growth has happened on the wire-line side, say analysts. Now, with Verizon looking to offer a suite of IP applications based on its EV-DO service, IMS must address the needs of wireless carriers.

Designed with the help of carrier infrastructure companies Cisco , Nortel , Motorola , Lucent and Qualcomm , Verizon wrote A-IMS to keep many of its non-SIP applications alive, according to analysts.

Although applauding the work done by the 3GPP2 and 3GPP standards bodies, the carrier said "practical, real-world issues needed to be addressed," said Dick Lynch, executive vice president and CTO of Verizon Wireless, in a statement.

"To not address the availability of non-SIP applications would widow applications you love," spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson told internetnews.com.

Verizon lists IPTV, VoIP and video on demand as just some of the applications that would be lost if it hadn't made the enhancements.

The announcement marks Verizon's first commitment to IMS, a move already taken by Sprint and Cingular, according to XJ Wang, an analyst with Ovum.

Wang said A-IMS is focused on service continuity from a carrier's perspective. While the standards bodies forming IMS assumed VoIP had already moved to SIP, several non-SIP VoIP layers remain, according to the analyst.

The new proposal, which Verizon will offer the standards bodies, also addresses optimizing voice latency, managing voice traffic and expanding the reach of IPTV to wireless, according to Wang, adding that most tier-1 carriers have committed themselves to IMS but deployment numbers still wane.

Ken Rehbehn, research director for telephone infrastructure at Current Analysis, said wireless carriers "want the evolution to IMS to include the applications that make revenue today," said.

Right now, voice is the killer application for Verizon and other carriers, he added.

Verizon defended the manner it formed its a-IMS proposal.

"The standards process is clearly the next step for us," said Nelson. "This is an opportunity for us to jump start the standards process by showing unanimity."

Nelson said the current IMS specification is "so open as to be difficult to implement in real world circumstances." However, Verizon has no interest in a closed, proprietary architecture, said the spokesperson.

Although other carriers are unlikely to adopt Verizon's A-IMS proposal without modification, the plan is a starting point for negotiation, said Rehbehn.

The collaboration with the five equipment vendors is simply a signal Verizon wants to work with the companies who will make A-IMS happen, he added.

Verizon says we may see the fruits of A-IMS by 2007-2008.