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One of the biggest trends in the service provider space is
convergence. As competition continues to
intensify, service providers are beginning to realize the need to offer bundled
services (on one bill) that includes voice, data and multimedia applications
within a single solution.
Bundled solutions, commonly known as “triple play,” must leverage
the capabilities of next-generation networks. In fact, triple play has really
evolved to “quadruple play” with the addition of wireless services. This enables service providers to introduce
blended services such as video phone, multimedia chat, and gaming to a variety
of devices. Subscribers also want to simplify the myriad of phone numbers,
subscriptions, passwords, buddy lists, e-mail addresses, etc. In summary
subscribers are demanding to get whatever services they want, whenever they
want them, regardless of where they are.
One of the common technologies enabling quadruple play is the IP
Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). IMS is a powerful extension to the existing network
infrastructure that allows service providers to build the next generation of
communication services based on an IP advanced network architecture. IMS specifications and elements are network
independent, thus enabling the quadruple play services to be network and device
agnostic, and can integrate voice, data and multimedia services in a single
IMS is an integral part of a service provider’s network, providing a control
plane for SIP-based services. However, IMS is only part of the story. A
complete next generation network architecture must include network layer, which
constitutes the entirety of the IP network, the control layer (of which IMS is
a part), and the service layer that sits on top.
Part of the opportunity for rolling out quadruple play
services is for service providers to offer a compelling end-user experience
through the composition and orchestration of new services at the service layer
of their next generation network. Composite
services leverage the functionality that already exists within the service
provider network by combining the existing functionality of discreet functions
to create higher value. An example of
this is an integrated communications and entertainment experience delivered
over any device, any location and any network.
In order to deliver true “quadruple play” service providers
must be able to create these composite services across multiple service
platforms, technologies and protocols across both fixed and mobile networks. As a
result, service providers must look at control layer to deliver,
amongst other things, network integration, session control and subscriber
management while looking beyond IMS to the session layer to provide the
capability to compose these new services -- allowing reuse of all assets,
integrating legacy system and linking to back office business processes such as
rating, billing and provisioning.
To create composite services, applications must have the
ability to communicate with each other. Within
the IMS context, the Service Capability Interaction Manager (SCIM) provides
this functionality. Beyond the SCIM, Web
Services are a set of protocols that enable interaction and synchronization
between applications at a higher level.
Web Services enable interaction at the service layer between service
platforms and multiple protocols. Using Web Services service
providers can enable intelligence across applications to provide new services to
customers and streamline internal IT-based tasks.