Reality Check: Telcos want 'Net toll booths


So in late July Verizon Wireless -- along with its partners Cisco, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nortel, and Qualcomm -- announced that they had created a new form of IMS called A-IMS. The A is for "advanced," they claim. But why would an operator step into the middle of a platform development process? According to Bob Egan, director of emerging technologies at the Tower Group, "IMS doesn't do all that Verizon wants it to do. So Verizon said to the equipment manufacturers, 'If you want to sell me next-gen network equipment, work with me in the industry to see things my way.' "

The telcos do not want to become a dumb pipe. Can you blame them? Their business model won't allow them to compete on price; they are bleeding badly enough from their traditional voice business as it is. And with the next generation of voice over IP, they won't even be able to compete on quality of service, says Benjamin Ellis, CEO at Psytechnics, an IP network testing company. The next version of VoIP will use wideband codecs that convey a huge amounts of audio information. Ellis says it sounds like someone is in the room.

So if they can't compete on price or on quality, how can they compete? By tweaking the standard and getting the equipment manufacturers to back them. And that is what A-IMS is all about.