It has been a long road for IPX since the GSMA and i3 Forum first outlined the definition of a platform for securely linking IP services across different networks. That was in 2006, and after a difficult gestation when the very term ‘IPX’ appeared to mean different things to different people, we have reached a point when almost every major global operator has deployed IPX or is planning to.
This doesn’t mean that IPX is a finished product or that it has reached its peak in terms of creating value for operators and their customers. We, as an industry, are still refining what IPX can do and the performance it can deliver. Simply calling a network IPX-enabled is not enough. There’s still more work to be done.
I believe there are four areas that need to be addressed for IPX to move forward and support the growth of IP services and new innovations in IP:
- New Visibility – Operators need increased visibility into network performance as they move from reliable, predictable, secure and high quality of service (QoS) TDM to an all-IP environment. Today’s IPX is not leveraging enough real-time analytics and operational intelligence. For QoS and quality of experience (QoE) to be guaranteed, IPX-enabled networks must have comprehensive visibility into network status, bandwidth usage, media QoS/QoE, session, service, application and SLA monitoring in real-time and trending (historical).
- Greater Efficiency – Operators need greater efficiency in a multi-service infrastructure. There are a plethora of IP based application servers and database infrastructures in operator networks. They need a highly customisable service management framework to be able to dip into these application infrastructures providing the ability to create simple to complex services. Otherwise, they will be limited in their ability to embrace newer technologies such as webRTC and others.
- Service Assurance – So far, IPX has not been able to maximise service assurance to maintain SLAs between service providers. Service level quality (MOS/R-Factor) assurance with dynamic steering enables operators to offer stricter SLAs and monetise their IP infrastructure. Stochastic modeling is needed to manage packet statistics variances with deeper voice quality analysis on Codecs, SNR and echo levels.
- Signalling – Complexity and adaptation in signalling, particularly in VoLTE scenarios, remains a challenge that needs to be addressed within the IPX environment. Signalling Adaptation Frameworks (SAF) and Signalling Procedure Adaptation Frameworks are needed to accelerate the roll-out of VoLTE and support the interworking of new IP services.
IPX can advance if these challenges are addressed and the industry moves beyond what we are calling IPX today. Big Data and analytics, as well as some key service developments, will change what is possible with IPX and deliver new QoS and QoE to end customers. These challenges can be solved. They just need the right solution and a willingness to explore ways of approaching IPX.