IMS Market Status: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Below is a presentation that summarizes some of the interim results of the update I’m doing to the original “IMS Market Status” report described in this article.  It was prepared during the IMS World Forum conference to fill-in for a potential gap in the schedule, but the gap did not happen, so it wasn’t presented, but is included here for your information.

In the title I highlight that what I’m showing here are statistics, so as always any number can be taken and used out of context.  For example, the 17% of operators deploying IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) by the end of this year, that does not mean all the traffic is over IMS, far from it, in many cases IMS is being used as a silo, with the bulk of traffic remaining over the legacy softswitch platform.

The original survey was carried out in 2009 covering 137 interviews.  The update started during Mobile World Congress in February covers a similar number of interviews, with about 45% completed, hence the 2011 results must be treated as interim.  Only a few of the findings are shared in the presentation.

Deployments are on track with the prediction made in 2009 with the 17% of interviewees anticipating deployment by 2011.  Note deployment requires requires live commercial services being migrated onto the platform this year.  More mobile and converged operators are getting involved in IMS, but there remains a significant watching and waiting group at 39%.

There’s lots of interesting information presented in the slides, highlighting a surprising result shown in slide 9, were the linear increase in adoption starts to flatten by 2015.  This prompted a number of follow-up questions to check what the survey was saying.  What appears to be some of the root causes include: operators are discovering IMS deployment is much more complex in practice, some are questioning on the need for separate I, C, and S-CSCFs (Call Session Control Function), QoS (Quality of Service) is too complex, BOSS (Business and Operational Support Systems) integration is a mess, charging complexity, rapid growth of OTT (Over The Top) services, RCS (Rich Communication Suite) concerns, etc.  Hence some operators are considering whether the current approach in IMS is right and what simplifications are required (as presented by KPN at the IMS World Forum).  Remember these are interim results, but nevertheless the implications are significant and we need to ask ourselves:

  • Do we need IMS-lite? (a simplified version with multiple route-maps laid out to ease migration, adoption, and better reflect today’s technologies and architectures)
  • Do we need an open-source IMS client?  So its just there like IPV6.
  • Do we need a reset on RCS?  Launching without presence is an embarrassment to the industry when the OTT services have been offering it for over a decade.