|Issue:||North America 2006|
|Topic:||Getting to IMS: tips on changing engines at 35,000 feet|
|Title:||President and CEO|
David Hattey is President and Chief Executive Officer of SIPquest, a developer of Converged Multimedia Client software for desktop, WiFi, Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) environments. Prior to joining SIPquest, Mr Hattey served as Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Voice Solutions at 3Com, as President of EF.Johnson Company, as Vice President of Operations for RACOM Corporation, and has held executive and managerial positions in General Electric, an Ericsson/GE joint venture, and at Ericsson Inc. David Hattey earned Bachelor Degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering from the University of Michigan and a MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and is the holder of 11 patents.
The Internet is coming to cell phones and handheld devices around the world. Putting the infrastructure in place and developing the IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) services will be complicated. It will take a phased approach to implementation. Initially, operators will concentrate on serving the enterprise market segment. Phase 1 will offer VoIP, smartphones and a series of enterprises services. Subsequent phases will bring increasingly sophisticated IMS enabled services. Eventually, these services will link people throughout the world to the Internet.
Today, virtually all Americans access the Internet via personal computers. Within three short years, a majority of people around the world will experience the Internet via mobile handheld devices without ever having known a personal computer. It is a little hard to imagine just how useful a mobile, broadband Internet of the future will be, just as it was a little hard to realize how useful a broadband Internet would be compared to the dialup Internet everybody knew in 1996. To get there, the mobile telecom infrastructure required for the mobile Internet needs to be transformed into an all-IP, broadband wireless network. Along the way, generations of devices need to be able to support the spectrum and the applications with sufficient processor power and battery performance to meet users expectations. It also needs intelligent software on the handheld computers, a new category called ‘mobile console’ software to control personally the experience and manage communications services. These three requirements are dauntingly complex, potentially expensive and massive in impact. So, how exactly does one change the engines on an aircraft at 35,000 feet? Very carefully! Practically speaking, mobile operators will take several years to implement, to evolve, the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) vision. In the meanwhile, operators will need to devise a multifaceted strategy that delivers innovative services all along the way and increases average margin per user. Despite one’s best intuition, the first place to start is with the customer. The lead customer, the premium customer, is part of a unique customer segment. They purchase large minute plans, roam a lot, tend to purchase premium devices, are data-savvy users and experiment with the latest services because it makes their lives more successful, faster and easier. That lead segment is the enterprise user. This focus on enterprise users makes a lot of sense. According to heavyreading.com, their employers spend over US$100 billion a year on communications services. Many enterprises have already migrated to VoIP and multimedia person-to-person, real-time communication application services using enterprise IP PBX or hosted VoIP services. The VoIP migration has brought several innovative capabilities to the enterprises, including click-to-talk, multimedia conferencing, unified messaging, multiple appearances, ‘find me, follow me’, personal control of call routing and presence-based calling, so users are experiencing advanced capabilities and know how useful they can be. Furthermore, many VoIP systems facilitate deployment of instant messaging, text-to-voice, delivery of voicemail as email and direct access to corporate directories. By facilitating appropriate connections between the mobile operators and the enterprise VoIP and associated service providers, these enterprise VoIP services can be made available to today’s mobile employee. In addition, enterprise users have near-continuous access to IP-based 802.11 broadband WiFi infrastructures between their enterprise networks, public WiFi hotspots and household networks. Such broadband wireless infrastructures are necessary to deliver next generation VoIP and real-time communication services in advance of widespread availability of 3G infrastructures. Given the widespread availability of WiFi infrastructures, it is not surprising that 70 per cent of all cell phone calls originate in WiFi-enabled environments. For all of these reasons, the enterprise segment is uniquely positioned to lead the adoption of rich, real-time, person-to-person and person-to-content services that pave the way for IMS services and infrastructures. To accelerate the delivery of rich real-time communication services, mobile operators can take advantage of the wireless infrastructure evolution that is already taking place. Operators can deliver rich value-added services to enterprise users using 2.5G today, and evolve that service design to IMS and 3G at a pace that the business requires. To do this elegantly, mobile operators need a client application partner capable of facilitating that reality. Capitalizing on the widespread availability of WiFi infrastructures to enterprise users, several device vendors are beginning to offer dual-mode, WiFi plus Cellular, mobile devices. Enterprise users, equipped with dual-mode smart phones with access to WiFi in most work places, are demanding voice and other personal communication services over the WiFi connection. Leading operators have studied and are now experimenting with enterprise-focused mobile VoIP services. In the next few months, we will witness an explosion in new services targeting this premium and high margin enterprise segment. The key ingredient, from the users’ perspective, is the mobile console software – for providing personal command and control of the communications environment. Phased non-disruptive migration to IMS Operators are phasing in IMS-based systems. They are using multi-phase migration strategies that let users benefit from IMS services without first implementing the complete architecture, and without necessarily waiting for newer devices or mobile console capabilities. A phased approach also postpones capital expenditures until the demand for given services is proven. Mobile operators are living in a more competitive environment than ever before. The cablecos are positioning to capture customers. Some operators are leasing access to their networks for high-value brands to offer Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) services. MVNOs are branded by company A, often a well-known company, but actually delivered by a network operator, company B. In the face of these pressures, not to mention the maturation of the markets they serve today, mobile operators must win and retain customers amidst cost pressures, emerging competition and new service models. Thus, they will need to deliver new services to attract and retain customers throughout the transition to 3G and to IMS. > This is crucial to any shareholder-backed operation since the migration to IMS will take time given the complexity of mobile and telecom networks and the feature-price dimensions of devices. Given the capital and market constraints that operators typically face, it is logical that they will follow a phased migration strategy. The business rationale must be to capture the benefits of IMS services while implementing the architecture in stages, as budgets and customer acceptance allow. The first phase of a typical IMS implementation strategy aims squarely at the premium segment — the enterprise user. It exploits smartphones capable of executing client software. In this phase, the market will require voice-enhancing enterprise services such as presence, instant messaging, corporate directory, notification of incoming enterprise calls, and enterprise message waiting indication on these smartphones. The second phase of the IMS implementation strategy, also known as fixed-mobile convergence, relies on the availability of dual-mode smart phones capable of executing software-clients and accessing WiFi as well as 2G networks. This phase is again focused on the enterprise market where users require enterprise-grade VoIP services such as multiple line appearances, call transfer, hold, park, ring-again notifications, together with the phase 1 services described above. Neither of these phases requires IMS-specific elements other than mobile console client software, smartphones and emerging varieties of dual mode devices to complement SIP-based IP PBX services. A third phase can exploit the deployment of 3G radio and network infrastructures and 3G compliant devices. In this phase, IMS delivers services supported by enterprise SIP applications over the WiFi interface in a public wireless broadband network setting. Throughout the transition to IMS, operators need to provide service continuity and service consistency. Good business sense dictates that they do not discontinue service to pre-IMS users until a sufficient mass of users and network infrastructure are in the IMS environment. Success calls for the co-existence of multiple market segments, multiple service attributes and multiple service bundles for many years to meet the growing needs of a mobile-hungry, broadband-hungry world. Operators will be living with hybrid environments for some time because they need to carry out migration to IMS at their own pace as dictated by their business and market drivers. In the fourth and final phase, however, all users will have migrated to IMS services, IMS devices and IMS networks. This will take several years and will ultimately involve phasing out mature service implementations, networks and devices. Minimizing the business risk throughout this process requires consistent branding, a consistent user experience and a consistent feature interaction set. Operators should begin now devising and deploying the first steps in a multi-phase strategy to deliver new services to their subscribers. The early steps in broadband wireless, exploiting readily available bandwidth, to initiate advanced services aimed at the premium enterprise segment, will build a path to introduce IMS economically . With this initial foray, it is clear that none of us passengers will ever know that you have changed the engines on the aircraft at 35,000 feet — something, I’m sure, that your shareholders will greatly appreciate.