Wi-Fi/IP convergence not ready until 2008

Wi-Fi/IP convergence not ready until 2008

IP Multimedia Subsystem standard needs some shaking out

IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology is being held back by equipment vendors' poor adherence to standards, and by conflict between competing factions within telecoms companies, industry experts said today.

"We are at a similar stage to that with VoIP when Cisco was the only game in town," said Bernt Ostergaard, research director for business telecoms services in Europe at analyst firm Current Analysis.

"IMS is still in that place; you are not buying IMS as such, you are buying from a specific manufacturer. We will not see widescale IMS deployment until 2008."

Ostergaard added that governments and regulators are putting obstacles in the way of pure IP-based systems by insisting that measures are put into place for organisations such as the emergency services.

Bob Brace, vice president of mobile solutions at Nokia, agreed that true interactivity is still not possible but insisted that the situation is improving rapidly.

"All IMS platforms are not working together as yet," he said. "It is not easy for other vendors to come in and start sharing services immediately, but we are starting to see much better interaction."

IMS seeks to establish a common IP-based protocol that allows fixed and mobile networks to interoperate.

The current version of the standard, run by the Third Generation Partnership Project, allows for interoperability between operators running 2G and 3G services, Wi-Fi services and fixed networks.

But problems between different vendors are going to put some companies out of business if the situation does not improve, according to Marc Rotthier, vice president of network and service provider business in EMEA at HP.

"The market is not at the end of the tunnel yet. The mindset is still around corner but it will happen. It must for cost purposes," Rotthier said.

"In the meantime we will see a few suppliers knocked out of the market by the usual competitive pressures."