What is IMS

The IP Multimedia Subsystem was the solution a few years back to deliver multimedia solution over the telecoms network. Originally, mobile telephones used circuit switching which was the standard of telephony to deliver voice across their network. However, with the advent of the Internet, IP and IP internet services became prevalent. Even Voice, was able to be carried over the internet through applications such as Skype via PC or Palm organizers, so the mobile operators had to adjust to be able to carry IP and data much more efficiently.

The 3GGP partnership developed IMS to be the staging post for delivering internet services beyond GSM via deliver over GPRS, WiFi and even fixed line. The initial objectives of the 3GG were good, but self serving, in so much as they wanted to supply IP and internet services through the IMS platform, sometimes termed as NG (next Generation) and deliver triple play services, (voice, IP, IPTV) to their customers.

The problem though was IMS was very complicated, expensive and the architecture so unwieldy that natural IP solutions were far simpler to implement for competitors. Additionally, IMS was very restrictive, mobile operators who implemented IMS controlled the ‘market place, or thought they did by controlling what applications and services were available and what wasn’t via their walled gardens. Subscribers found that they were restricted to what was available, sometimes depending on the service plan. However, the internet and mobile WiFi in particular had become accessible to most of the mobile operators customers through other devices and customers voted with their feet. Laptops, Netbooks and internet enabled mobile phones, became the preferred mobile devices for social media and video.

Despite the best efforts of the 3GG, it was a wake up call that the mobile operators could no longer call the shots! Internet and data were here to stay and IMS was not the way to go. As a result, further research and development on 3G and subsequently 4G and LTE have embraced data and the internet with mobile operators more likely to offload the vast amount of data traffic from their expensive bandwidth rather than try to monopolize the market.

Alasdair Gilchrist

Alasdair is a technical writer with interest in business practice, operational strategy, start up philosophy and affordable technology. He lives in Nonthaburi, Thailand with his wife and daughter, and writes terrible novels as a hobby.

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