C S Rao is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Lucent Technologies Hindustan Pvt. Ltd. He spearheads Lucent’s complete business activities covering sales, marketing and deployment of the wireline and wireless telecommunications network projects within India. Mr. Rao has 24-years of international experience in the field, having worked across North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific regions. Prior to joining Lucent, Mr. Rao was the Regional Director, SAARC at Tellabs where he set up their marketing and sales support and their software development centre for India. Prior to Tellabs, Mr Rao was associated with Center for Development of Telematics (CDOT) Telecom Research, where he held the prestigious position of advisor to the Prime Minister of India. Mr. Rao started his professional career with ECIL India. Mr. Rao holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.
VoIP has served carrier networks as a means of transport for years. Today, operators, carriers, cable companies and independent service providers are all supplying their customers with VoIP solutions. The issue is not what IP networks can do, but, rather, how to deliver converged voice, video and data services in a seamless, converged and effortlessly blended manner that engages and excites the senses. IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) brings a seamless ‘lifestyle’ communications experience, using the full capabilities of the network, directly to subscribers.
The value of the Internet Protocol (IP) has become immediately apparent to the retail end-user in the last few years. IP has shifted from being an arcane transport medium for researchers and the like to being synonymous with ubiquitous access to Internet services. More recently, it has gained fame for the dramatic lowering of the cost of voice communications through VoIP. The traditional version of VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, provided no more than the transmission of voice over an IP network. However, the emergence of the IP Multimedia Subsystem architecture has had a defining effect on the concept of VoIP. Properly implemented IMS is a "game changer" that will unlock new opportunities across network layers and services. With the emergence of IMS, VoIP has come, today, to symbolize the value that IP brings to the common user. The new applications enabled by IP-based communications enhance the ways in which people can communicate. New multimedia services talked about, and in some cases delivered, today typically include: Voice services (DID, Caller ID, Call Waiting); Find me/follow me; One number; Click to call; Work anywhere; Secure instant messaging; Business continuity; Presence services; One unified mailbox; Online directories; Personal call management. Voice services delivered by VoIP are nevertheless the headline news at the moment. A recent survey from Deloitte & Touche indicated that more than two thirds of Global 2000 companies would deploy VoIP by 2006. The delivery of VoIP equipment will surpass that of TDM (time division multiplexing) in 2006. The TIA’s Techtrends predicts that there will be more than 19 million VoIP lines installed by the end of 2007. VoIP has been an integral part of carrier networks for several years now, serving as a means of transport. Carriers, cable companies and independent service providers are all deploying VoIP solutions to the marketplace successfully. These IP networks are capable of delivering converged voice, video and data services. The issue is not so much what they can do, but how to make it happen in a seamless, converged and effortlessly blended manner that engages and excites the senses, enhancing the communications experience. The new IMS-based systems enable service providers to create the seamless lifestyle communications experience that brings the full capabilities of the network directly to subscribers. A true IMS-enabled portfolio of next-generation infrastructure solutions supports complete convergence of networks and services and helps service providers attract and retain high-value customers. In this way, service providers can deploy new lifestyle services continuously, quickly and easily. With all-IP IMS based architecture, the real convergence occurs at the core, thus the device becomes “Triple A” or Any/All Available. By contrast, convergence that takes place in the device alone – via the latest voice/ data/music integrated handset or PDA can be illusory – creates a specific, specialized but soon-obsolescent platform for delivery of services. As device preferences change, device-specific convergence can result in churn – customer turnover – away from the network, something that is quite contrary to the operator’s best interests. IMS, the IP Multimedia Subsystem, is the biggest engine of convergence going – and it does pretty much what you would expect. It provides an IP-based system that can move any content between any terminals connected to the network; the trick is to make all of the mobile and fixed systems part of that network. This, normally, cannot occur in a service-by-service, “stovepipe”, manner. Instead, the flexibility to converge not only at the network level, but at the applications and device levels as well, needs to be incorporated into the network from the start. That is what IMS delivers. Major cell phone makers unveiled phones at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona this February that switch between cellular coverage outdoors and cheap wireless Internet calling inside, all on a single phone number. These new handsets can connect to the Internet via WiFi, rather than Bluetooth, to make cut-price calls from the home, office or public hotspot. Smaller manufacturers have recently announced a handful of similar phones. The underlying transport medium in all these cases is IP. As the next step in this evolution, high-powered networks are becoming much smarter. Through the convergence of services and the deployment of IP Multimedia Subsystem, networks soon will be able to recognize you, remember your preferences, and deliver to you any of the voice, video or data services you have subscribed to – regardless of where you are or what device you are using. Provided that standards such as IMS are upheld and that the industry avoids artificial barriers such as proprietary twists on the protocols, excessive DRM (digital rights management) squabbling and other attempts at a "walled garden", the services’ richness can actually increase the telecom "share of wallet" for the first time in a long while. Recent end-user primary research has identified customer segments and services blends that represent a very high increase in value due to the use of IP in the only way that ultimately matters – customers’ willingness to spend. It is the ability of the network to adapt to individual customer’s preferences, profiles, context (e.g. work or play) and proximity to friends, colleagues and desired suppliers via “presence”-based intelligence, that enables the attractive and valuable new services, blended any way you want, just like the coffee at your premium-priced corner coffee shop. Customers will start choosing providers based on how well their networks provide these personalized, adaptive services. IP Communications is no longer the discussion of the future – it is here today and ready to define the way we communicate. The value delivered by these applications today, as well as the ability to build applications around voice services, will bring tremendous value to organizations. The delivery of these services is secure and the tools available today can further enhance them. Still, we need to take IMS from an incremental enabling technology to a transformational technology by enhancing the core IMS network architecture with tools that deliver true “personalization”. We are at the edge of that real transformation – a transformation in how people are entertained, share information and communicate, connecting everyone everywhere to virtually everything – seamlessly, simply, and securely. This transformation will unlock the true potential of VoIP communications. Operators looking to introduce compelling new services, generate revenue quickly, seize and maintain future market share, to secure new revenues, and simultaneously enhance the user’s experience and choice would typically benefit from choosing a solution based on a market-ready IMS architecture. As the battle for the consumer intensifies, carriers are viewing seamless voice convergence as the first step in improving customer loyalty and revenues. Carriers can also use IMS effectively to expand their dual mode services market to the enterprise segment and, as well, offer both the business and consumer segments a revolutionary set of flexible and personalized communications services. By transforming the user experience, IMS will help drive take-up of enhanced data services, reduce churn and unlock the true revenue potential of next-generation networks.