IP Exchange will play key role in enabling VoLTE roaming

LONDON--IP Exchange (IPX) will play a crucial role in enabling voice roaming on LTE networks, panellists at the LTE Voice Summit said here.

Maria Cuevas, head of core mobile networks research at BT, said the operator already has many of the elements to offer voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming, but conceded that IPX players have a large role to play in making roaming a reality.

"From a network to network perspective we think that IPX providers have a huge role to play and can actually help overcome…problems of interoperability between IMS providers be it at the signalling level, be it transcoding in the network, be it quality of service end-to-end, and things like multimedia routing and how to…route the media through the optimal path through the network. Those are value added features that an IPX provider can…help operators with," Cuevas told delegates.

David Hutton, technical director of the GSMA's Network 2020 Programme, noted that IPX providers will be critical to offering international VoLTE roaming. "An operator would find it very difficult to have relationships with each one of their partners, or each of the other 799 operators around the world. To set up all those routing and signalling establishments, particularly the routes that you use internationally, is very complex," he said.

However, Hutton also noted that there are different ways operators can utilise IPX providers. "One is a hubbing model, in which case you have a one-to-one relationship between yourself as the operator and the IPX provider and that IPX provider then determines how to route it to all the other 799 operators around the world."

IPX providers may also offer varied capabilities, said Steve Heap, CTO of Hot Telecom. "You've got IPX providers coming from different backgrounds--you have two on the panel here. One, Syniverse, coming from a roaming background…another [iBasis] coming from more of a voice and transmission background and both are going into the same space."

Heap noted: "Why would Syniverse want to generate enormous billing systems to create this per minute [billing] model? Similarly, why would iBasis want to have the same model for signalling? So you've got two people coming in with nothing to lose into the same market place."

Kees Hol, business strategist at iBasis, said the implementation of VoLTE seems more imminent than it did a year ago. "I have the feeling there is a more positive vibe on VoLTE and I believe…that we all are aware it will come."

For Syniverse senior technology program director Pradeep Bhardwaj, IPX is the glue that will provide the interface between elements including IMS and signalling. "IPX is very very fundamental," he said.

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