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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bridging Microsoft and Skype:A WIMS 2.0 philosophy (When IMS (IP Multimedia Systems) bridges the gap between Telcos and web 2.0)

You might have heard by now that Microsoft is to buy Skype. This just reminded me about the WIMS 2.0 concept. Do refer to the video for an insight about the buy-out.

The telecom world has changed dramatically in the last few years, especially mobile communications. The use of intelligent networks has brought a whole new set of ground-breaking services. However, the developers needed to master the infrastructure of the operator in order to set up these services, which limited the possibility of opening the market to other service providers. The user, who is not aware of the network technology, is not satisfied with the applications that are available. In order to overcome these limitations, the mobile world has introduced a new control architecture based on IP technology: IMS.

IMS is much more than a mere architecture; it enables new ways of fulfilling the user’s needs, splitting up the market, reducing the time-to-market and increasing the creativity for producing new services. At the same time, we have seen the arrival of new, highly social services in the Internet world, the so-called Web 2.0 services.

On the one side, the path towards all-IP networks and fixed mobile convergence allows services to be decoupled from the network and to adopt bearer-independent horizontal architectures. Together with the value loss of traditional telecom services like voice, this indicates the need to adopt a new business model rather balanced towards user-centricness, with users able to elect, configure and personalize services, and with a stronger position of services provided by specialized third parties. On the other side, the world of services offered in the web ecosystem has experienced a very relevant development with Web 2.0. Thus, a myriad of new services, appealing to the user since they (the users) are the catalyst factor of service offering and service evolution. In the 2.0 era, the user is the guest star. Additionally, the flexibility to develop and mash up new services in Web 2.0 and user participation in the content creation and population for those services are consolidating the idea that Web 2.0 represents the successful manner to develop and exploit services in the near future. Beyond that, considering that Web 2.0 holds an increasing penetration in mobile and telecom devices, it turns out that it might pose a menace for traditional telecom operators.

The WIMS 2.0 initiative arises to mix the best of two worlds, the telecom and the web world, by utilizing the best technologies, services and business models available from both sides. WIMS 2.0 is an initiative promoted by Telefonica and its R&D branch.

WIMS 2.0 seeks convergence between Web 2.0 and the telecom new generation services based on IMS (IP multimedia subsystem), to create innovative, appealing and user-centric services and applications. These services combine features from both Web and telecom worlds. On the one hand, relevant features like interactivity, ubiquity, social orientation, user participation and content generation are adopted from Web 2.0 services. On the other hand, IMS enhances WIMS 2.0 service features with a collection of capabilities like multimedia telephony, media sharing, push-to-talk, presence and context, online address book, etc., all of them being applicable to mobile, fixed or convergent telecom networks. In addition, in order to provide more versatile and enriched services and a short-term implementation, WIMS 2.0 also considers the utilization of pre-IMS telco capabilities like SMS/MMS messaging, circuit switched video and voice calls, networked address books, etc.

WIMS 2.0 comprises the strategies, technologies and service platforms that allow telecom operators to achieve this convergence with innovative Web 2.0 services in all-IP networks. Following the Web 2.0 revolution and the Telco 2.0 initiative, a change in the telco traditional business model is recommended following the adoption of a user-centric and open-garden philosophy consisting of the enhancement of the openness, flexibility and freedom in the fashion services that are provided. IMS, along with its associated set of service enablers, has been identified as the base platform to support this convergence and business model change.

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