WALTHAM, Mass. - The day of truly converged services -- cooperatively based in a telecommunications network, the Internet, a computer or a handheld device -- is not far off, and testing sponsored by a prominent industry group is being done over the next two weeks to bring that day even closer.
Engineers and equipment makers are gathering in the Verizon technology lab in Waltham and in labs elsewhere in North America, and in Asia and Europe to test a new system that enables incompatible services and networks to work together. It's called IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), and it will be at the heart of long-foretold convergence. "IMS is more than a platform; it is a system that will enable the true convergence of services, using some very interesting blends of network and Internet functions," said Mark Wegleitner, Verizon senior vice president of technology.
"At the simplest level, contact lists, voice messaging, photo files, e-mails and other content or features that currently reside in one place will be universally available, regardless of the equipment you are using or network to which you're connected," he said. "At the more complex level, services from one realm -- say, Internet-based geo-mapping -- can be combined with services from another realm. For example, could use your handheld devise to transmit instantly to someone else your location along with a photo of yourself, taken by the devise. The combinations are boundless."
The biennial Global Multiservice Interoperability testing event is sponsored by the MultiService Forum, an industry group dedicated to promoting network and vendor focus on system and service compatibility. In 2006, the MultiService Forum's Global Multiservice Interoperability (GMI) event promoted the refinement of IMS in today's multisupplier, multicarrier world. This year, Verizon, the National Communication System (NCS) and the UNH-IOL in North America, British Telecom and Vodafone in the United Kingdom, and China Mobile in Asia will link their labs to create a global ecosystem for testing standards for a variety of service configurations, including those developed by the ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF).
[Note to Editors: A press briefing and tour is scheduled for Oct. 29 at Verizon's Waltham Laboratory. Contact Jim Smith, above, for details.]
This year, IPTV (Internet protocol television) is of particular interest. ATIS' IIF has been working on IPTV standards and industry implementation agreements. Currently, most IPTV implementations do not use IMS, but it is expected there would be great benefit in doing so. Non-IMS implementations create silos of proprietary infrastructure, limiting the potential for IP video to interact with other services. For example, there would be limitations on how users move video to a mobile phone or play games on multiple platforms. GMI participants will work to test early IMS-capable IPTV products, as well as IPTV service-management solutions that are able to analyze the quality of the IPTV service.
In addition, there will be substantial work on the nuts and bolts of IMS functions, including quality of service standards and inter-platform contact setup and tear-down processes. Many additional services besides IPTV will be tested as well.
Participating this year will be 22 equipment companies: Acme Packet, Alcatel-Lucent, Codenomicon, Empirix, Fujitsu, Huawei, Ixia, JDSU, Motorola, MuDynamics, NEC, Nokia-Siemens Networks, Nortel, OSI, Sonus, Spirent, Starent, Tekelec, Tektronix, Telchemy, Teles and ZTE.
"Early critics described IMS as a wonder technology in search of a killer application" said Roger Ward, Office of the CTO, BT Group and president of the MSF. "That killer application turns out to be service integration, and IMS will provide network services the flexibility to move with the market just as nimbly as with the Internet. IPTV is just one example of a new-wave service that operators seek to deliver on a variety of underlying infrastructures, and we anticipate major media interest in our GMI 2008 IPTV-related scenarios that compare IMS and non-IMS based solutions."
Results of the testing will be published some time after the event, after which the standards for interoperability would be applied, and services created and launched.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 69 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,600 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
About the MSF
The MultiService Forum is a global association of service providers and system suppliers committed to developing and promoting open ¬architecture, multi¬service networks Founded in 1998, the MSF is an open¬ membership organization comprised of the world's leading telecommunications companies.
The MSF's activities include developing Implementation Agreements, promoting worldwide compatibility and interoperability, and encouraging input to appropriate national and international standards bodies. For more information about the MSF and its members, visit the MSF Web site at http://www.msforum.org/.
ATIS is a technical planning and standards development organization that is committed to providing leadership for, and the rapid development and promotion of, worldwide technical and operations standards for information, entertainment and communications technologies using a pragmatic, flexible and open approach. Participants from more than 300 communications companies are active in ATIS' 22 industry committees and Incubator Solutions Program. www.atis.org