Transformation towards IMS (Total IP)

The telecommunications industry has been going through a significant transformation over the past few years. At the outset incumbent operators used to focus on mainly basic voice services and still remained profitable due to the limited number of players in the space and requirement of huge amounts as initial investment.

However, with the advent of competitive vendors, rise in consumer base, and introduction of cost effective IP based technologies a major revolution has come about. This has enabled operators to come out of their traditional business models to maintain and enhance subscriber base by providing better and cheaper voice, multimedia and data services in order to grab the biggest possible share in this multi- billion dollar industry.

The evolution in Telecom industry has been accelerating all the time. The Next-Generation Operators wants to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology by, adapting to market needs and looking at the system and business process from multiple perspectives concurrently. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) need to consider several factors in mind before proposing any solution. They need to deploy solutions which are highly automated, highly flexible, caters to customer needs coupled with ultra low operating costs.

By hosting new services on the new platform and combining new and old services CSP‟s aim to provide service bundles that would generate new revenue streams. This process is largely dependant on IMS ( IP Multimedia Subsystem ) architecture .

Transformation towards IMS (Total IP)
Transformation towards IMS (Total IP)

Optimization in operator landscape evolve as result of synergistic technologies that come together to address the innovation and cost optimization needs of operator for better user experience. In following sections different technological evolutions that are affecting overall operator ecosystems have been discussed with focus towards Service Layer.

Legacy to IP transformation

This section broadly covered the aspects of migration from legacy IN solution to new age JAINSLEE framework based one. Applies to Legacy IN hosting voice based services mostly  such as VPN, Access Screening ,Number Portability, SIP-Trunking ,Call Gapping.

Most operator environments have seen a rise in the number of service delivery platforms. Also complexity of telecom networks have increased manifold hence CSPs are facing multiple challenges. Increased efforts and costs are required for maintaining all the SDP platforms. These platforms are generally of different vendors and cater to different technologies thereby greatly increase chances of limiting the scalability and flexibility of the operator landscape. More effort required for sustaining the life cycle of the platform and challenges in integrating non compatible SDPs due to proprietary design have been stumbling blocks in the progress of CSPs across the world.

To overcome these challenges there is trend in the market to move towards SDP consolidation wherein instead of maintaining several SDPs with their proprietary design CSPs prefer maintaining a single or less number of SDPs having standardized interfaces.

SDP consolidation SDP consolidation (1) SDP consolidation (2)

As illustrated in the above figure there is a transition that is taking place in the industry towards consolidation of service delivery session control. This would provide a cost effective sustenance of existing applications and the rapid creation and deployment of new services leading to increased revenue recognition by CSPs.

  • Agile Development
  • Innovative services
  • open SOA based architectures
  • IN/NGN Platform and Services
  • Reuse of existing investments in legacy service platforms
  • low cost of new service development
  • faster time to market
  • Monetize investment in Network Infrastructure uplift – SIP trunking, VoLTE etc.

Services that should be covered  in the Scope of Migration from fixed line to IP telephony are:

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) : An Intelligent Network (IN) service, which offers the functions of a private telephone network. The basic idea behind this service is that business customers are offered the benefits of a (physical) private network, but spared from owning and maintaining it.
  • Access Screening(ASC): An IN service, which gives the operators the possibility to screen (allow/barring) the incoming traffic and decide the call routing, especially when the subscribers choose an alternate route/carrier/access network (also called Equal Access) for long distance calls on a call by call basis or pre-selected.
  • Number Portability(NP) : An IN service allows subscribers to retain their subscriber number while changing their service provider, location, equipment or type of subscribed telephony service. Both geographic numbers and non-geographic numbers are supported by the NP service.

WebRTC based Unified Communication platform

Using WebRTC Solution for Delivering In Context Voice which provides new monetizing benefits to the Enterprise customers of Service Providers. This includes following components:

  • WebRTC Gateway for implementation for inter-connect with SIP Legacy
  • Enhancement of WebRTC Client with new features like Cloud Address Book, Conferencing & Social Networking hooks.
  • Cloud based solutions

INtoJAISNLEE

Challenges in Migration to IMS  (Total IP )

Since long I have been advocating the benefits of migration to IMS  from a current fixed line / legacy/ proprietary VOIP / SS7 based system . However I decided to write this post on the challenges in migration to IMS system from a telecom provider’s view.  Though I could think of many , I have jot down the major 4 . they are as follows :

Data Migration challenges

  • Establishing a common data model definition
  • Data migration seamlessly
  • Configuration management
  • Extracting data from multiple sources and vendors , that includes legacy systems
  • Extracting data due to its large scale and volume

Training

  • Creating an effective knowledge share and transfer for live operations
  • Training in fallback plans, standards and policies .

Customer impact

  • Minimized customer outage
  • Enhance customer experience by delivering quality services on schedule
  • Ensuring security of customer’s confidential data
  • Transfer of customer services without any impact.

Testing in replicated environment

  • Physical pre-transfer test
  • Reducing cycle time
  • Verification and validation at every change in data environment
  • Detect production issues early in the test -lifecycle

Fallback plans

  • Pilot program and real network simulation for ensuring preparedness
  • Tracking changes in new network


Evolution of voice Communication

From ARPANET(Advanced Reseracha nd Prjects Agency Network) in 1973 by US dept of defence , invention of HTTP in 19196 and finally evoluation of SIP in 2000 and availiability of broadband ethernet services, the telecom landscape has evolved.

As far as infrastructure, services, and contents are concerned, the VoIP industry is witnessing a  migration from POTS / PSTN/  Legacy integrations to  NGN (Next Generation  Network).

NGN is  being implemented globally as a means to change the cost base, agility and service capabilities of telecoms providers. The evolved architecture for the transition is one that provides flexibility to service providers by enabling them to deploy new services on IP based technologies, while leveraging existing services and infrastructure as long as it makes sense.

This post describes the evolution of voice communication in access , transport and  session layers respectively.

Access Layer

ip transformation in access layer
IP transformation in access layer

Transport Layer

ip transformation in transport layer
IP transformation in transport layer

Session Layer

ip transformation in session layer
ip transformation in session layer

Read more about IMS ( Ip multimedia System ) IP Multimedia Subsystem ( IMS )

IMS at work from visiting to home location
Access network agnostic

It is noteworthy that SKYPE provided VoIP services ( since 2003) much before mobile phone had 2G/3G ( 2010). In current times with many fantastic options to choose from( whatapp , FB messenger , insta cht , Viber , Hangouts ..) given the high bandwidth with 4G/5G and mych advanced media / signal processing tech , the glocal voip scene is touching 400 mililion subscribers and looks very attractive with 1.5$ billion market .

Enterprise communication systems

On premise private branch exchanges ( PBX ) were the first kind of business telephone systems to which the analog PSTN systems of the company were conneced. These analog circuits were then replaced by digital PBX which provided enhanced features liek screening , voicemails , shared lines.

In the current landscape , the digital PBX of the company is connected to the external telco privider via a SBC or SIP trunking service .

An ompremise LAN based voIP system can be accessed from outside via a VPN on SSL/ IPsec. Although it incures greater CAPEX but ensufe maximum control and ownership of the data . Many time the local laws mandate the server to be hosted with a partuclat geographical area too where an on premise setup and data centre is used.

Enterprise communication shifts from on-premise to SaaS (cloud)

As for remote worksforce and employees working from home (such as during lockdown , pandemics ) it is even more crticial for enterprises to maange inter communication between teams and keep the communication private ie not using piblic messaging platforms , hence the role of cloud based PBX integrated with secure and end to end encrypted telco providers is of prime importance .

To read how a SME can setup their own flexible and scable enterprise comunication system read –

VoIP/ OTT / Telecom Solution startup’s strategy for Building a scalable flexible SIP platform https://telecom.altanai.com/2013/11/21/what-should-a-telecom-solution-startup-do/

With the advent of other disruptive technologies such as free and opensource codecs in browser with WebRTC and well defined framework and standards , voIP definetly looks detsined to expand by leaps and bounds.