The IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) is an IP-based approach that enables any type of application to be delivered over any network. It is, as engineers like to say, an "elegant" method of giving service providers and their customers any service they want any time they want it. This TMC Net piece does a good job of explaining a rather tricky concept.
This Wireless Week story says that Cingular Wireless is on the verge of introducing Video Share, the first IMS-based service in the United States. Video Share will enable simultaneous video and voice connections between subscribers in the portion of its footprint with high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) coverage.
The story canvasses vendors to get an idea of what the deployment picture looks like. The most interesting comment in the piece is from a vice president of IMS vendor Alcatel-Lucent. He suggests that tier 1 operators will use IMS to add data services, while their tier 2 cousins are more interested in cheaper ways to provide mobile voice now and advanced products later.
We're taking a wait-and-see approach to the deployment of IMS. The technology apparently is experiencing at least some growing pains and marketplace doubts. The comments in Wireless Week piece seem a bit less than convincing. Perhaps the most qualified is from Sita Lowman, Nortel's IMS marketing development leader:
"It may seem like the marketplace for IMS is pretty quiet, but it's not quiet from our point of view... The market is moving from hype to decision right now."
Perhaps -- and even if it is, that decision could be "no." There are less expensive -- less "elegant" -- ways of doing what IMS does. No matter how technical the issues are, return on investment always remains king. If the economic justification is there, the platform will thrive. If it isn't, less costly workarounds will suffice.