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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Addressing & Numbering Strategy in IMS world

A number of mobile operators have been in contact with us recently asking about addressing and numbering strategy as they move towards an IMS world.

In the short term, as operators offer more SIP-based services, how do they help their customers manage the potential complexity of having more (and more complicated) numbers/URIs to remember/use?

Part of the problem is that senior management don't necessary appreciate the problem. So, my colleagues at our sister consulting practice, STL (www.stlpartners.com), put together this simple summary of the issue for their Operator clients to use with senior management:

Transiting to SIP-based services - Address and Numbering Strategy - How to make it seamless for our customers and business partners, and differentiate vs competitors?

Situation
- We [the Operator] are moving towards an IP-based core network, using IMS architectures.
- We are trialling basic SIP-based functionality with customers (Push to Talk, Video Sharing, Multimedia Messaging, Voice Enrichment).
- This functionality will be available on our own network only (ie. Won’t allow roaming).
- In 18-24 months we will be looking to launch more sophisticated converged IP-based services (via multiple bearers and devices) to compete with fixed and internet players.
- IP-services require a very different address/numbering system (SIP based) than voice (MSISDN based).
- Some standards bodies exist to help with the address and numbering aspects of this (eg. ENUM)

Complication
- SIP-based services make address/numbering much more complex and confusing for the customer. Technically, this issue has not yet been solved by the industry as a whole.
- Unless addressed quickly, customers will be required to have multiple addresses/numbers/identities for multiple IP-based services types.
- Customers are already demanding single address/number schemes to access multiple services across multiple networks – they will gravitate towards the Operators who can offer this.
- Third parties (content providers, business partners) will gravitate to Operators who have the most efficient way of delivering and charging end users for bundled IP-based services.
- Industry standards on these issues are not in place yet.
- Some solution vendors are selling proprietary solutions which may prevent us from creating scaleable IP-based service propositions in the longer term.

Question
How can we differentiate vs competitors by creating an approach to address/numbering which is simple and effective for our customers?

Answer
Deal with 2 interrelated issues now, to avoid headaches later on:
1.) Plan how to help the customer make an easy transition to a SIP-based address/numbers system (MSISDN/SIP co-existence, roaming, number portability, etc.)
2.) Ensure our internal technology development and interconnect strategy is in line with this.
Create a Future Address and Numbering Strategy.

The Editor

editor@ims-insider.com

PS: For those wanting to get more into the technical aspects of this, I would strongly recommend an excellent blog www.voipandenum.blogspot.com.


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