IMS sales jump as carriers shift away from VoIP

Telecom carriers are finally beginning to deploy the much-ballyhooed IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) technology in their networks instead of buying VoIP equipment, recent figures show.

Research firm Infonetics predicts IMS equipment sales will jump 74% in 2009, while standalone VoIP purchases have fallen by a third in the past year.

It also says that NTT and SK Telecom have the world’s largest IMS deployments. Asian operators will take the lead in IMS equipment spending in 2010 as the China operators ramp their IMS networks.

The research firm says service provider VoIP purchases worldwide fell 33% year-on-year to $600.4 million, a result of the capex freeze. But it is seeing “a noticeable shift” away from stand-alone VoIP networks to IMS in the core network.

IMS is a 3GPP standard that enables carriers to build a single core network that will work with fixed, mobile and WLAN networks.

“While the core IMS equipment segments, CSCF [Call Session Control Function] and HSS, are still small compared to the service provider VoIP market, deployments remain strong in EMEA and Asia Pacific. The core IMS equipment market had an impressive quarter with $63.7 million in revenue,” said Diane Myers, directing analyst for service provider VoIP and IMS at Infonetics.

Worldwide sales of IMS equipment, including HSS [home subscriber servers], CSCF [Home Subscriber Server] servers, and voice application servers, would climb 74% in 2009 over 2008, she said.

Myers said most operators believe that IMS will be the core switching infrastructure – “it is just a matter of network upgrade cycles.”

“No operator was going to rip and replace but rather IMS is part of the overall network evolution.”

The impending arrival of LTE, the next-gen wireless standard, and Rich Communication Suite (RCS)  are big drivers for IMS within the mobile operator. Both require IMS at the core.

Myers said most Tier 1 service providers were coming to the end of major VoIP projects. Because of fixed-to-wireless substitutions, most large operators “have put PSTN migration plans on hold and will reassess after the economic storm has passed.”