IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) technology remains an important part of the seamless mobility between mobile telephony and fixed wireless.

 Industry-wide adoption of IMS will enable service providers to expand their service offerings to a wider range of market segments, while allowing subscribers to experience a level of integration not witnessed in previous networking technologies.
New analysis from growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan finds that the world IMS test & monitoring equipment market earned revenues of $274.1-million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $1.2-billion in 2013.
“The need for fixed mobile convergence is driven by greater customer needs in terms of wireless coverage, triple play services to the handset, and delivery of carrier-grade quality of service (QoS),” notes Frost & Sullivan research analyst Olga Yashkova.
“IMS could also essentially and seamlessly add extra functionality for triple play customers,” adds research analyst Lakshman Koundinya.
Service providers will benefit from IMS implementation because it allows for quick service creation through means of simple modular elements resulting in more rapid time-to-market. Moreover, it proposes the same structure for wireless, cable or wireline access and VoIP, data and multimedia traffic. The idea and goal behind IMS will ultimately move all voice and multimedia communication – both mobile and fixed – to much more flexible, packet-based technologies consequent from Internet protocols.
In addition, IMS reduces capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) by providing a quick and efficient transition of all voice services from TDM to VoIP. Its flexible architecture makes it possible for service providers to construct their own services and combine different applications for possible customisation.
“A critical challenge to the continued expansion of the IMS market relates to its significant complexity. Besides involving a number of standards such as 3GPP, 3GPP2 and TISPAN, as well as a number of protocols such as SIP, COPS and SS7, IMS also defines several separate functions and specifies support for a number of network interfaces,” cautions Koundinya.
“The variety of communication media, communications equipment, protocols as well as hardware and software platforms found in the network and the complexities associated with such networks poses a serious obstacle to market growth.”
A major area of concern in IMS deployments exists in providing the capability to work with different equipment manufacturers. For example, customers want the ability to link through Siemens base station or Motorola base station, follow the signals and the call as well as track the call quality. However, with undefined standards, interoperability among different vendors with varied perspectives can be particularly frustrating.
“No single vendor can provide solutions for all applications in one platform for successful IMS voice implementation,” explains Yashkova. “In addition, integration of legacy networks is highly significant for the success of VoIP services, making multi-vendor interoperability and network interoperability a key challenge in the IMS voice test and monitoring space.”
Overall, prospects for IMS remain extremely positive. Being new to the test and measurement industry, the IMS architecture offers tremendous opportunities for test equipment vendors, service providers and future subscribers. The key to the sustained growth of the IMS test and monitoring market will be successful IMS deployments and usage of the architecture.
IMS offers high potential growth in all platforms, including service providers, network equipment manufacturers and enterprises. With successful IMS implementation, vendors can guarantee service level management to end users.
“The success of IMS also relies on how well this architecture can function in any new infrastructure in addition to deployment in existing ones,” notes Koundinya.
“Moreover, with IMS likely to be involved in new services such as video deployment, delivering such services in an efficient manner will create many opportunities for test vendors in the IMS test and monitoring equipment market space,” concludes Yashkova.