IPX challenges and opportunities: a conversation with iBasis CTO Ajay Joseph
Q: We all know the basic premise of IPX, a single secure pipe to deliver multiple services, such as voice, SMS, GRX and signalling, among other advanced services, but what does iBasis believe will be the &#x201C;killer app&#x201D; for IPX?
AJ: The advent of IP technology in the core today and soon in the edge of the mobile network (via LTE/4G) will unleash a wave of new applications that require real-time (international) network services between mobile network operators (MNOs). The IPX is well suited to handle this class of applications and deliver the required interoperability. There are several applications one can envision using interactive video, voice, presence and roaming that will need an IPX network connecting MNOs. We believe that the first major application riding the IPX will be voice, but not just traditional voice. A much higher fidelity voice service, referred to as HD (high definition) voice, will utilise IPX to deliver a dramatic improvement in sound quality.
Q: Who are the major players offering IPX solutions?
AJ: We see three types of providers in this market: international wholesale carriers, mobile data service providers, and, to a lesser degree, international data backbone providers. Generally, data services operators do not have the experience in managing international voice traffic required to ensure a smooth transition from TDM to VoIP and must rely on partnerships to round out their product offering. Among wholesale international carriers, iBasis has the distinct advantage of extensive experience with VoIP and TDM interconnections, including direct interconnects with more than 120 mobile operators via TDM. As a result, we can effectively and reliably manage the transition in technology from TDM to IP without sacrificing business continuity. In fact, we have more than 70 customers today leveraging our Premium Voice service, which delivers very high-quality and guaranteed features, over IP interconnections, very much like an IPX implementation. In addition, mobile operators expect measurement and enforcement of certain KPIs and response times, which iBasis has provided for many years and which are supported in the IPX model through SLAs.
Q: What are iBasis&#x2019; thoughts on the GSMA IPX recommendations AA.80 and AA.81 (The GSMA recommendation for both IPX Transport and IPX Voice)?
AJ: iBasis applauds the work of the GSMA to provide the industry with a working template for contracts and SLAs. These documents
are at the foundation of the contracts we developed for the IPX services we provide. The original GSMA specifications reflected a view of IPX that was not entirely compatible with the current practices associated with the voice hubbing model in use by carriers today. Some of the differences involved the transparency of charging and
interconnections, the number of transit IPXs allowed, the
demarcation of SLA points, and the necessity to break out to direct TDM end points. The i3 Forum, in which iBasis is very active, has been working with members of the GSMA to accommodate these common practices in the final specifications.
Q: What is the most compelling part of the iBasis IPX offering?
AJ: In addition to being one of the leaders in international VoIP, iBasis has brought to the market the concept of IPX Community Groups. Community Groups challenge the conventional wisdom of maintaining discrete point-to-point circuits, by enabling operators with shared ownership to pass voice and data traffic over the iBasis IPX at very compelling rates. The iBasis IPX takes away the operational challenges of managing multiple interconnects with many parties. As service providers migrate their network to a converged IP (supporting both voice and data) via emerging architectures such as LTE, some of the benefits of using an IPX for interconnecting to other service providers will include:
> Enhanced voice quality: made possible by reducing the number of TDM transcodings and by using direct termination interconnects;
> Capital and operating expense savings: IP interconnects are more cost effective, more flexible, faster to install and require fewer resources for network maintenance and development as multiple services can be provisioned across a single service-aware IPX interconnect;
> Interoperability between disparate networks; > Faster implementation of new services;
> Higher-quality services: SLAs between providers ensure consistent service-specific quality, and enhancements, such as high-definition voice codecs, can be more easily implemented across service providers, resulting in higher value services; and
> Cascaded billing and payments: the IPX provider will charge based on the specific service across downstream IPXs and service providers.
IPX also enables MNOs to leverage the IP expertise of IPX providers to ensure end-to-end service quality and reliability.
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