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May 01, 2014

IMS, Mobile Communications and WebRTC Gateways

The communication behavior of customers is something telcos have been trying to figure out for quite some time. Their inability to do so has resulted in losing revenue to companies such as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and others. According to research by Ovum, free social messaging applications like WhatsApp have cost global phone service providers $32.5 billion in texting fees in 2013, and that figure is projected to hit $54 billion by 2016. In order to address these and other issues that are impacting the bottom line of the industry, they are looking to enable enhanced services through IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology.

With IMS, telecommunication carriers have a platform that simplifies the use of IP for packet communications over wireless or landline. This means it is possible to provide multiple forms of communications including Voice over IP (VoIP), instant messaging (IM), video conference sessions and video on demand (VoD) as well as telephony, fax, email, Internet access and Web services. This technology was eagerly awaited by the industry for the solutions it was going to provide to consumers and businesses, but these same services started being accessed outside the control of the telecoms, just like the messaging WhatsApp provides.

IMS delivers the fusion of IP communication and media in an all-IP network , which is what the market wants as data continues to overtake voice as the primary source of traffic on mobile network. But IMS is also focused on legacy communication models, which has made it complex and expensive, pushing consumers to look for the simple and flexible options IP communication provides.

For many users, IP communications is the new market reality, but IMS is still part of the infrastructure based on propriety hardware that some see as being inflexible and lacking the scalability IP delivers. However, this is changing, as new IMS service providers deliver applications that address the communication needs of consumers and businesses along with the flexibility to scale and meet any demand.

They are making this possible with virtualized IMS as a cloud communication platform. This will introduce new market opportunities by delivering the same flexibility in IP communications for achieving massive scale with new services. This lowers the cost and complexity of the network by eliminating the need for hardware installations, allowing businesses to try out multiple communication enabled applications. This includes new APIs and WebRTC solutions to deliver communications service on any device, Web page or application.

With the right WebRTC gateway, IMS can enable communication as a Web service so Web-connected devices can be extended to deliver solutions with interoperability with existing IMS, PSTN and PLMN communications platforms.

Eventually there will be total convergence of all forms of communication over IP, but that moment still hasn't quite arrived. Telecoms are trying to find solutions that will integrate the decades of investment they have in legacy systems while at the same time embracing new technology, and IMS is providing that at the moment. But like all technologies, the legacy system will in the end cease to exist; the question is how much longer the telcos are willing to fight for it?

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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