Dublin, Ireland-based Accuris Networks has a long history of bridging dissimilar communications networking technologies—going back to 1996, when they set up a system to let German T-Mobile GSM customers roam to GTE’s AMPS network at the Atlanta Olympic Games. In 2000, the company introduced GSM/CDMA roaming around the deployment of Motorola’s Iridium satellite network.
This week they announced what they call the first “off the shelf” complete fixed/mobile convergence that fully integrates voice, data, and messaging across GSM, CDMA, and IP networks, dubbed AccuROAM.
Actually, Accuris CTO, Louis Corrigan told VoIPplanet.com, it’s a new version of AccuROAM that’s being unveiled. “AccuROAM has been around for quite a while,” he pointed out. “Up to now, it has enabled GSM and CDMA—and TDMA, when it was around—operators to roam across the different technologies.” The new version, he explained, “extends it to Wi-Fi. Regardless of which network the subscriber is on, he’ll receive the same set of services. The Wi-Fi product does this as well. So it’s not just about voice over IP roaming, it’s about data sessions, messaging sessions, and voice sessions.”
“Our vision is for complete convergence,” Corrigan continued. “For an application to be successful, it’s got to be accepted by the mass market. Being acceptable in the mass market means—I believe—dual mode devices. One device, one set of services, one number—one bill.”
This vision of a service set that follows subscribers wherever they happen to be, without their having to be concerned with—or even aware of—what network they’re using is one many consumers would gladly embrace we think; one they’d willing pay a premium for.
AccuROAM works its convergence magic by emulating a Mobile Switching Center and—with help from another Accuris product called AccuPROFILE—translating subscriber profiles from one protocol format into that of either of the other two protocols supported by the system. “So what we’re now doing is taking a SIP registration and turning it into a GSM registration or for that matter, CDMA registration,” Corrigan explained.
Again emphasizing that the Accuris convergence solution is not just about voice, Corrigan turned to the topic of text messaging. Not only is cellular SMS totally unrelated to IP-based instant messaging, even GSM and CDMA-based SMS technologies function somewhat differently. Accuris, however, solved the interworking problems with SMS some time ago. “We’re offering SMS interworking with [international telco customer] Teleglobe today—GSM to CDMA,” he said.
But now, with the new SIP/IP enabled AccuROAM platform, “we can terminate a mobile message and then originate a SIP message. So you’ve got SMS to Internet messaging as well.”
The situation with SIP-to-GSM messaging is more complicated. “Today, the SIP messaging is really proprietary to the SIP client, because it’s not totally standardized yet,” Corrigan explained. “But in the future, we’re well positioned to do that messaging piece as well.”
The issue of standardization and standards pervades this realm. Once the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) standards are fully developed and deployed, such transformations will be commonplace. Meanwhile, in today’s pre-IMS (or early-IMS) reality, they are a big headache, Corrigan suggested. And while there’s also a movement afoot to ‘harmonize’ applications across networking technologies moving forward, there’s a long way to go on that front as well.
Also announced was Accuris’s membership inMobileIGNITE, an industry group of network infrastructure vendors, service providers, software developers and others all working toward network and application convergence.
“MobileIGNITE emerged because IMS is looking like it’s a bit further away than people anticipated,” Corrigan told VoIPplanet. “It’ll be great when it gets here, but we’re not going to deploy IMS networks tomorrow. Nobody is going to do a big bang. MobileIGNITE decided, there’s a way to do this without full-blown IMS networks but that’s compatible with IMS. What we’re supplying is something that can be migrated upwards to an IMS network.”