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TDG Says IMS Remains a Pipe Dream for US Carriers

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TDG Argues that IMS Remains a Pipe Dream for US Carriers

North American IMS Deployments are but Wishful Thinking,
Not Proven by Deployments or Contracts
Download this TDG Press Release as a PDF

March 22, 2007 (Dallas, TX) - Despite widespread hype among both vendors and carriers regarding the potential of the IP Multimedia Subsystems or IMS, the deployment of this convergence architecture continues to be delayed by a variety of industry and market inhibitors. According to new research from The Diffusion Group, the leading digital home and IP media consultancy, extensive North American IMS deployments remain years away.

"Most major wireless, cable, and telephone service providers are in the process of upgrading their wide-area infrastructure in preparation for the move to unified IP-based networks," says Stephen Dye, consulting analyst with TDG. "However, the pace at which this process is unfolding varies widely by region, with North America far behind other regions of the world, most notably Europe."

The promise of IMS is that operators will finally be able to use a single IP network to deliver a wide variety of services that today require different network protocols and topologies, as well as introduce an array of new services uniquely enabled by IMS. The reality, says Dye, is that, at least within North America, a variety of barriers block the way including:

• The lack of complete, relevant IMS standards (specifically the Services Capability Interaction Manager (SCIM) and Policy Control and Rating Functions (PCRF);
• Securing quality interconnections and services during an extended period of migration from legacy networks to IMS;
• Specific operational issues such as integration between wireless and wireline systems within a carrier's network, as well as between different carrier networks;
• The widespread availability of inexpensive, fully-featured IMS-capable handsets;
• The slow pace at which North American carriers are introducing IMS-related services such as fixed-mobile convergence (FMC); and

• The move by specific carriers (e.g., Verizon) to introduce their own proprietary version of IMS, thus further fragmenting standardization efforts.
Once migration to IMS is undertaken, the challenges multiply exponentially. As Dye noted, "Carriers will face a host of unique challenges when launching IMS services, including minimizing cannibalization of existing services, identifying those specific services most likely to attract highest demand (and revenue), crafting unique marketing initiatives that educate consumers about the unique value of IMS-enabled services, and the ongoing need to forge solid relationships with partner carriers and third-party vendors." While these challenges can be addressed, Dye cautions operators that such issues require extensive advanced planning.

Somewhat fortuitous, Dye also noted that the recent closing of T-Online (Deutsche Telekom's FMC service) proves just how difficult it can be to roll out, market, and support IMS-enabled services. Just this week, DT cancelled its FMC service for precisely the reasons that Dye cited as key to IMS service success: T-Online was too expensive, poorly marketed, and failed to offer compelling services and handsets.

TDG's latest report on digital convergence, Traversing the IMS Terrain - Red Flags & Green Lights, is now available for purchase. This report identifies the extensive challenges that operators will face when deploying IMS, and that vendors will face when creating solutions to serve the needs of carriers investing in IMS migration.

As well, TDG is offering a free white paper as a prelude to the full report. The Uncertainties & Challenges of Deploying IMS is now available for download on TDG's website.

About The Diffusion Group ( TDG ) -
The Diffusion Group is the research and advisory firm dedicated to all matters relating to digital home, iptv and mobile. Using a unique blend of consumer insights, executive-level consultants, and hands-on technical experts, we produce more than just research - we create Intelligence in Action®.

To sign up for TDG's free weekly analyst opinion piece or for more information, visit our website at


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