The new hope for mobile IMS


IMS is one of those really interesting technology enigmas. Everyone expects IP based mobile network infrastructure to eventually replace the circuit switched technology but for as long as IMS has been around most perceptions seem to be that it hasn’t quite ever delivered. I think there are several reasons for this, the main one being that Mobile Network Operators do not need to make the change. They would gain no real competitive advantage in doing so since conventional non IP services such as voice and SMS remain cost efficient, highly reliable and very profitable.

What IMS has suffered from is a lack of context in relation to real services. SIP based VoIP alone does not differentiate itself sufficiently from conventional voice to warrant the level of investment in infrastructure: IMS is a risk to operators rather than an opportunity. This lack of service context is something the main proponent of IMS, the GSMA, has recently addressed with a set of new specifications around Rich Communications Suite (RCS).

RCS is a set of IP services defined in the context of IMS and provide operators with a service based approach to deploying IMS and deliver enhanced communications services. These services are designed to be future oriented in the sense that they are defined by how communications has begun to evolve. For example, social networking, instant messaging, content and media sharing are all services that are now very familiar to everyone but they continue to remain outside the realm of conventional mobile communications since we use different machines, service providers and clients to run them. RCS seeks to marry all these services and provide the mobile network operator with the opportunity to start to develop them and most importantly, brand them. By branding services that manage social media and content sharing, operators have a clear basis to compete with Apple and Google in particular, which are starting to threaten the operators’ position as primary service providers of next generation services. This is known as the “dumb pipe” concept.

What RCS promises is a basis where conventional mobile services are enhanced and enriched. For example, the Enhanced Address Book (EAB) definition combines presence with conventional contacts management and can relay social media information such as status updates. With presence, Instant Messaging is enabled with content or media file sharing. All these services can be underpinned by conventional circuit-switched voice meaning the operator does not have to deploy RCS at the same time as SIP based VoIP so there is no dependency on operators to switch off their mainstay communications services.

So what does this mean for Symbian? Potentially it could be significant. RCS is currently being deployed using standalone clients and it seems there a few announcements being lined up for Mobile World Congress next February. Our contribution plan already includes MSRP which is a key enabler for RCS. Availability at source of the core enablers as part of the Symbian platform means service providers have an easier, more cost effective basis to deploy the services. Over the next few months I am going to be getting into more detail about where RCS is going and will be using this blog to share my thoughts. In the meantime please take a look at our roadmap and feel free to provide any comment below or email me at richardc[at]symbian[dot]org if you have a particular interest in making RCS happen.


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One Response to “The new hope for mobile IMS”

  1. Small Business VOIP Says:

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