Interoperability Part II: QoS is king, but where's the money‾

Just to recap: The MultiService Forum's (MSF) fourth massive interoperability testing, GMI, of next generation network (NGN) components, which spans three continents, is drawing to a close.

Over the last weeks 22 vendors and operators have worked together to test 225 devices in six network test scenarios specified by the carriers. Some 82 basic test cases have been being carried out across the six scenarios*, with almost 500 permutations, Over 600 pages of test plans that took two years to prepare have kept a team of 125 engineers working around the clock.

As reported, there was clear dissension in the ranks that arose from the GMI concerning IMS, the other main strand of the trials is access - or access tiles, if you want to use the correct jargon. Could the many different parties agree draw any common conclusions‾

Hylam Bolande, director of marketing programs, wireless business group, Alcatel-Lucent told the panel that WiMAX was the first technology designed to exploit full IP networks. He also said, "Different types of services - voice, video, VoIP and so on - are totally dependent on QoS and that includes WiMAX. We need to ensure end-to-end QoS at all the different levels."

He continued, "Packets have to be prioritised, depending on what the user is doing. The dynamic assignment depends on the application, not an arbitrary QoS, rather it has to change to match the task."

He insisted this was the only way service providers are ever going to get consumers to pay for QoS.

Ian Jenkins, chief voice architect strategy, BT agreed and disagreed. He agreed that QoS end-to-end was essential and also that if someone is working at home when their children return from school to watch IPTV, it's not acceptable for the conference call to disappear or the quality drop.

However, he disagreed about being able to charge for guaranteed QoS for services, saying, "Expectations haven't changed: customers won't pay extra to have good service on all applications and they certainly won't put up with stuff that doesn't work."

He added, "For many years we've used mean of opinion (MOS) surveys to gauge what people think of a network's voice quality. We as an industry need to come up with the equivalent for other services - MOS metrics will be hard to use across all multimedia - for instance, how would you define QoS for mash-ups‾"

John Frieslaar, European CTO, Huawei, commented, "The biggest problems for most of our [service provider] customers is the overhead of management. They desperately need tools that enable them to see into the network and see what their customers' problems are."

He continued, "This is crunch time. We want to look into our customers'  networks and at their traffic so that we can draw down on costs. The issue here is security - I'm not sure we've focussed on security enough at the MultiService Forum, security and data privacy are key because otherwise how will the results - what we've learned - be shared and disseminated across other organisations‾."

Bolande of Alcatel-Lucent argues that the diversity of devices will be critical to the success of many services and that, "We will need a diversity of devices with WiMAX capability if it's going to take off - the quality and convenience of so many services will depend on the device, look at the effect of the iPhone."

 

Frieslaar has other ideas, arguing, "Network activated QoS is the way to go, rather than worrying about the device as the driver. There is too much emphasis on the last mile."

The information collected from this GMI will be published in early December, using the special reporting tool developed by the MSF to handle the enormous amounts of data generated by the testing and translate them into meaningful information.

Already Joe Yipeng, IMS marketing,  ZTE, is looking to the next GMI in 2010 to concentrate on, "Dynamic calls for different access tiles - perhaps with some thinking about the Olympic Games which will be happening in London in 2010."

Huawei's Frieslaar thinks the emphasis then should be on, "Green, scalability and cloud computing because VDSL and GPON should be deployed by then and wireless technology will have moved on - and operators' are pushing us to come up with 99.9999 - from five to six nines - of reliability for their networks, which is certainly a challenge."

Related news and analysis:
Interoperability Part I: Real-life interop testing highlights IMS drawbacks

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