IMS attention drifts to digital home, IPTV, cable carriers, vendors agree

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At last week’s Globalcomm show in Chicago, telecom vendors paraded their technological wares, giving us a peek at their network roadmaps. The future, as the vendors see it, will be dominated by mobile TV, and this phenomenon is shining a bright light on Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem technology as well as convergence applications.

And the attention to IMS is not coming only from the wireline phone network operators, it’s coming more and more from broadband cable providers, which are said to be preparing to play in the wireless arena.

During a keynote panel, Cindy Christy, president of Lucent Technologies Inc.’s Network Solutions Group, said the next three to five years will see a steady rise in deployments of merged services as customers look for anytime, anywhere access to their e-mail, TV, video, gaming and voice services. She indicated that IMS was the means of providing consumers with a “unique personal experience.”

Nortel Networks Ltd.’s George Riedel, chief strategy officer, added that video is a changing agent, explaining that the nature of broadcast is shifting toward an on-demand business model, which IMS can support due to its network-agnostic qualities.

Regarding research and development, Siemens A.G.’s Harald Braun, president of the Carrier Networks Division, said companies should develop products outside their home markets to gain perspective about different markets. Tellabs Chief Executive Krish Prabu agreed, adding that he expects innovations to flow from Chinese and Indian technologists.

All the executives commented consistently on the rise of converged services and blurring line between wired, cabled and wireless access lines.

Braun supposed that “home IT specialists” will be needed to help consumers manage their digital-home networks and help them understand how to make all their home devices to work together. He also mentioned that the need to deliver broadband will force developers to focus more attention on IPTV, IMS and WiMAX.

The panel predicted growth in several areas. Christy said she expects a rise in Voice over IP, professional and managed services and public safety, including homeland security, while Riedel spoke of gains in IPTV and WiMAX. Braun agreed, adding that Siemens expects U.S. mobile-phone subscribers to catch up with the rest of the world in the adoption of advanced wireless applications within the next few years.

Playing in the global marketplace has its challenges, which Christy identified as trade barriers that restrict a fair and competitive environment. Though she didn’t name names, Christy spoke of certain governments catering to in-house, or homegrown technology. Braun added that the ongoing struggle for the adoption of global standards is extremely important and that the protectionism policies of some big country-governments hurts the industry because it stifles development.

The next-generation challenge, said Prabu, is to draw commercial success from your investment through interoperability of products and applications.

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