Report on the ICIN 2004 Conference

1         Summary


From October 19-21, I attended ICIN 2004 in Bordeaux.  There were about 220 attendees from 110 different companies in a dozen countries.  France and the UK were well represented, the US and Asia were less well represented.  This is a very technical conference focused on service creation and delivery architectures.  It arose from the IN world 15 years ago but has become focused on next generation service delivery and convergence.


What’s Hot?  -- IMS, Web Services, and Parlay/X are clearly the big topics this year.  IMS is seen as the next great hope for a converged services architecture.  (Comment -- I guess I’m a little skeptical having worked on converged services architectures for 25 years and concluded there is no one right architecture).  Web Services is the preferred protocol for everything.  Again, at this point I think the applications are not yet mature enough to answer questions of performance, responsiveness, scalability, etc. which are what come to mind when you look at the amount of software layering involved.  Parlay is much more popular than I expected.  Specifically Parlay X (Web Services).  There seems to be at least some deployment of Parlay X and the beginnings of 3rd party applications.  Interestingly enough deployment of IMS and Web Services is being driven much more in the fixed networks than in the mobile networks where IMS was designed.  The issue seems to be that Mobile network work has been slowed by the slowing of UMTS, while Fixed network has been accelerated due to the operators converting to IP based core networks and looking for services as a differentiator.


Convergence is also a major theme.  Interestingly enough I think there is a split on what people mean:

  • Converging Circuit/Packet or Wireless/Wireline.  This is a technology focused definition and what most engineers mean.
  • Converging Service capabilities (i.e. IM or Video with Voice, Presence+voice mail).  This is what the more service focused people are really seeing as convergence.

I think this is an interesting observation.  Several people also lamented that so far the major driver behind Packet technology in networks is that VoIP is being sold to the customer as a flat rate, cheap calling plan.  Users don’t care about the technology, they do care about cost.  Maybe Converged Services are something that users will care about, but I don’ t think that is clear.


Innovative services:  Probably the most innovative things I saw were Amigo TV (Alcatel) which enables a group to watch TV while using chat and voice to communicate as if they were in the same room.   It’s hard to judge whether this will actually be worth money to people.  Second was the Virtual PBX (SpeakaNet).  This is PBX services delivered to mobile phones.  The service is slick and the economics are compelling.  I frankly think this is a much better service than IP PBX.  SPeakanet and others looking at it all seem to be doing it in a Parlay or Parlay X environment, which may well be a compelling reason to deploy Parlay.


General Mood:  Cautious Optimism.  Still a lot of churn and reorganization in the industry, but people are definitely seeing an upturn.  Conference attendance is up, Services are being deployed.  Companies like Marconi which were buried in Debt 2 years ago are now healthy again.  Nobody is being lavish yet, but it’s a big improvement.



2         Conference Sessions

2.1      Plenary session

2.1.1      Roberto Kung (France Telecom R&D)

lots of discussion of where intelligence goes in next generation networks.  Some in the terminal, but some things go in the network too:


  • Protection/security (SPAM filtering, government obligations, etc.)
  • Dematerialized goods – (managing intellectual property that needs shared access)
  • Managing complexity.
  • Adapting content to access.


Where is FT spending its efforts: 


  • Terminals/home networks (Providing a set top box)
  • High speed access (both owned and unbundled access to other carriers  Looking at ADSL2+ for 10Meg+
  • IP Backbone, including IP VPN, MPLS and enhanced QoS.  Also all forms of wireless access.
  • Transaction platforms: (Like Application Servers)
  • Softswitches, data session controllers and content (lots of 3rd party stuff around content)


Some projects aimed at ease of use :

  • authentication (single signon)
  • Contacts list (maintaining a common contact list, including presence for them and managing access to presence.  Presence was really a separate project)
  • Reachability (availability on different devices, synchronized with presence).
  • Payment (flexible payments based on identity.  Micropayment as a focus).


Roadmap on how to converge:  Migrate real time services to common middleware, non-real time services to a unified service platform.  Converge everything towards the IMS architecture.


Their current work on middleware is aimed at OSA/Parlay as the common set of APIs (no indication of which vendor or what services). 


Handsets – they are working with manufacturers – they have a range of branded devices.  They are working on both mobile and fixed endpoints.  Key is to make sure they cooperate with the service platform.


2.1.2      Bernard Villian (Program Chair, Alcatel)


About 220 attendees., up about 10% from 2003.  (Comment – at the program committee meeting we had a long discussion on the state of the conference.  By EU standards this is a success (it’s been smaller and larger), and has a high percentage of operator attendees. I talked with several friends here who also attend VON and other shows in the US who say for services ICIN is far better.  ICIN hasn’t managed to really connect well with the large number of companies working on IP based services – yet, and this is an area where the conference team will continue to focus).  (Comment – One thing I find interesting is that the Europeans tend to pronounce the conference initials as a word “I sin”, while Americans tend to pronounce it as individual letters “I See IN”  Perhaps that has something to do with why it’s better attended by one group than the other J)


2.1.3      Houlin Zhao – Director of telecom standards (ITU)


This talk was discussed by everyone as a big disappointment.  Way too much of committees and process, not much vision.  As an excuse he apparently very recently returned from a standards meeting in Brazil and did not have time to prepare.

Gave an example of the value of standards – US phones won’t work elsewhere, others will.  (Way too simple of course).  Another example – of the growth in the German economy over the past 30 years, 27% is due to standards, second only to capital as a source for growth.


Talked about how ITU-T has a reputation for being slow, but that’s out of date.  With new Alternative Approval procedures, you can get approval in less than 2 months.  This is responsible for 90%(?) of the current work.  (Comment – He may have something.  IETF scoffs at ITU, but if you look at the stagnation of  SIP standards and others I am not surprised that ITU has improve by comparison.)  The slide talked about reducing the time from 4 years +2-4 years for publication in 1988, to 2-9 months and 3-9 for publication in 2004


Talked about participation.  US is still large, but China is now second.  Some other surprises – Nortel is a top participant, and Cisco has higher participation than Lucent and Siemens.  For operators, The Europeans are the largest participants, only China and AT&T even make the list.  (I’m not sure how the RBOCs ar represented in the ITU).


Growing interest in standards in Africa and Latin America.  In both cases some local interests are driving it.  One interesting comment was that ITU is now offering free standards downloads (well 3 free at least) to non-members.  I will have to try it.  Getting ITU standards in the past has been expensive.  There was an awkward moment when he talked about the growing participation of “ladies” in standards.  Maybe just a translation, but I haven’t heard that word to describe professional engineers in a long time.


2.1.4      Kjell Strandberg (ETSI)


 He replaced the ETSI director scheduled to speak.  Another disappointing (boring) standards talk.  There was some speculation that part of the problem here was some kind of dispute between ETSI and ITU over not speaking in the same forum.  No idea if this was a factor.


ETSI has 13,5000 publications, all available free.  The scope is fixed and wireless, mostly telecom focussed, but wireless covers data as well.  ETSI also does compliance testing.  Their structure is based on French law for non-profits (Based in Sofia Antipolis).  They have about 100 staff members including 4 centers of core expertise, and pursue about 30 expert group projects concurrently.  Major emphasis in next gene networks is focussed on TI-SPAN.  This is the evolution of what was TIPHON and SPAN.  (Comment – The Lucent Netherlands team was instrumental in creating TIPHON and giving it a mission in standards).  IMS has become the fundamental model for the future.  Release 6 expands IMS to cover all access networks.  TISPANs NGN work is organized in 3 release:

  • Release 1 – extend coverage to all forms of access
  • Release 2 – handle resource control for optimization of resources across networks.
  • Rlease 3 – handle roaming issues.


2.1.5      Geoff Parkins  (IBM)


Geoff’s talk was a sales pitch for web services.  The opportunity presented by web services is for Telecom operators to get into the value chain of enterprise to enterprise communication.  That’s how you get

customer loyalty. 


He described 3 waves of telecom services – POTS, where there were only a few hundred developers who could build services, AIN which opened to about a thousand, and NGN with 100,000+ (Way too low in my view). 


He presented IBM’s service oriented architecture – basic approach is to design everything as re-usable assets.  Standards are the key to doing this along with re-use.  They reduce complexity. 


Gartner view – Web services is the key source of communication between enterprises by 2007


He gave some info on their work with sprint.  Sprint wanted to open their network capabilities to enterprise customers.  The result was to embed sprint networking APIs in integrator applications. 


Their SCE – Based on Eclipse plus a simulation environment (he felt simulation was essential because carriers don’t want to test in real networks), plus prebuilt service components.  (Sounds very familiar).  The prebuilt stuff is a framework plus lots of service components plus adaptors to integrate to network components.  There was some discussion on how to find examples on the IBM web sites.


Questions – Dave Ludlam – where’s the boundary between standards and innovation.  Geoff – 1st sprint projects were Microsoft maps presented to a pocket PC and a location based workforce management system.  Part of their deal was that components introduced could be exclusive for 6 months but would eventually become standard.  You need a policy of innovate, exploit, and then standardize.


Chet McQuade – Is there work on standardizing web human interfaces?


ETSI does this but as a separate user group.  Big problem is getting input before there is a final product.  Project MESA (911/public safety standards) is an example with a big human factors content.


I asked what ETSI and ITU were doing to bring in Cable.  The answer was of course we do standards for them, but it didn’t address my real concern which was that the cable industry was unrepresented in the meeting.  I had later discussion on this with others and I think among the technical people there is agreement with me – this conference, ITU, and ETSI are dominated by the Telco view.  The view from Cable providers or ISPs may be quite different (and in fact it would be surprising if it weren’t) 

2.2      Session 1 (Operator Views)

2.2.1      Claudio Carelli (Eurescom, ex Telecom Italia)


He gave a rapid fire talk on services with lots of interesting observations.  I’ve noted some of the better soundbites here, which 3 days later are still thought provoking:


 Who is really leading telecom now?  At first it was the engineers, then Marketing lead, now it’s finance.  Are the lawyers next? 


What do customers want?  Mobile Broadband Internet – it’s that simple.  Terminals are key and underestimated by carriers.


Keep things simple.  Value isn’t in the bits it’s in the services (gave an example of SMS vs TV, 7 orders of magnitude difference in price per bit.)


“The future is fixed, with mobile access that makes it look mobile”.  The point being that data networks and core services will be fixed, but access will be mobile.


Is UMTS the future?  Look at 802.  It’s still not obvious what the right answer is for data (and in fact it may vary depending on where you are.  In Bordeaux, it’s cheaper to use GPRS with a mobile phone than it is to buy WiFi access, but many hotels in the US simply give away WiFi and wireless data is usually an expensive service from a mobile operator.


“More bandwidth is fixed, more services are mobile therefore there is a need to converge.”


“R&D Turns Money into know how, Innovation turns know how into Money” – you need both.


Total market is huge, 1,200 Billion Euro in communication worldwide, 3,000 Billion if you throw in other digital information technologies.

2.2.2      Whan Chul Kim SK Telecom (Korea).


SK Telecom is the largest Korean Telco.  They are the biggest CDMA Carrier (18M subscribers, with 1XRTT deployed and EVDO deployed in 2002).  He talked a bunch about broadband and the basic message was the motivation to buy is entertainment, and not all “family” entertainment.  (The non-family entertainment accounts for something like 20-25% of the broadband revenue.) 


2.2.3      Mike Walkden (BT 21 Century Network)


He talked a lot about their wholesale call control offering, which is based on a Parlay architecture.  It uses Marconi and Appium (Marconi infrastructure and Parlay gateway and an Appium layer on top.  They also have billing and UDDI interfaces.  One thing they had to do was put load control on top of it.  They added a capability to initiate a call (basically make two outgoing call legs), and he went through a whole range of challenges including feature interactions, problems with caller ID, problems with carrier pre-select.  They used it to do click to dial for home workers using a PC to initiate calls with their home phone.  (Lots like converged desktop).   Actually this talk was a bit disappointing because the focus was fairly narrow and sounded a lot like re-inventing things we already know how to do.  The 21CN project is a much grander re-invention of BT as was clear from the talk given by BT later in the conference and the one given in the VASA workshop.


2.2.4      Roberta Minerva (TI Labs)


Those who know Roberto will not be surprised that he gave a very entertaining and provocative talk.  He had a lot of material on convergence that he didn’t get to cover.  Some notable sound bites though:


“The death of Network Intelligence” – Web Services Plus Network Identity Plus Context = NetworkED Intelligence.  (i.e. the future may not be in a centralized smart network but in a lot of cooperating intelligent entities.)  He talked a bit about Skype, the peer to peer VoIP service.  What is happening is that Voice is going Mobile, Broadband is staying Fixed, and what this means is that Fixed voice becomes free (i.e. “bits” over fixed broadband are virtually free and can be used to deliver a voice service peer-to-peer).  He talked about what he called his sister’s business case for services.  His sister lives in the south of Italy and he prompted her to install Skype so they could talk without a large bill.  Once she discovered it though she spread it people she worked with in the north of Italy.  Now she opens a connection in the morning and works all day with an open line to the main office so they can work as if they were in the same room.  Great service with no revenue.


Service metaphors – Talked about Remote controls and a virtual assistant as metaphors for services.  Not sure what comes next (He had 2 more he couldn’t cover).


He is not a fan of SIP (Later he explained to me that he was being a little extreme to make a point).  Real problem is one protocol isn’t enough.  IMS with SIP control is way too complex (He put up a 3GPP chart) (Comment – these things are getting way too big and complex.  Where did the Simple go?).



·         OSA/Parlay “a la carte” – put in service discovery  and a few services, not everything. 

·         SOAP, not SIP  SOAP is much more “IT Friendly” as a framework – not session oriented and no baggage. 

·         Intelligence will be everywhere – in the network in the terminal, and in 3rd parties.


2.3      Session 2A  Voice over IP


2.3.1      Mitsoyoshi Suzuki (NTT) Anti SPAM Voip Service for secure communication.


He  presented a system for rejecting SPAM (junk) calls over VOIP using essentially a private number (sub number) given to people you want to talk to.  The caller then encrypts it using 1 way encryption and sends it to you along with the call attempt.  The SPAM filter uses the info to screen for invalid caller ID before applying whitelist filtering. (Comment -- I can’t see how pure white list filtering is going to be useful to most people, since it is so severely restrictive in who it lets through.)   (Global Comment – seems odd to have an operator spend so much effort figuring out how not to deliver calls).


2.3.2      Mona Johnson (Technical Marketing, not as her VASA role)

Mona  presented a scenario analysis of whether Secure Voice would be a killer App.  I reviewed some earlier material for her.  She had 5 scenarios including the current (nobody cares about security).  In 2 others encrypted voice became a value added service, while in the remaining 2 it became either “table stakes”, or a service provided by smart endpoints which reduced carriers to bit pipes.  Her conclusion was that secure voice was important enough to pursue (Her presentation was quite good, describing potential scenarios down to making up incidents and participants.  I have no way to judge the accuracy of scenario planning as a prediction tool.


2.3.3      David Houck (Bell Labs)  Admission control in VoIP networks for multi-priority voice

 He presented some schemes for providing multiple levels of Qos for Voice.  He proposed using  DiffServ to establish protected bandwidth engineered to meet the load, multi-class queuing with packet dropping to handle overloads, and call admission control to regulate traffic.  Some conclusions were that you could provide good QoS under overload at least to your top category, that admission control is necessary, and that dynamic algorithms for setting thresholds are better than static ones. 


(One comment on this – I worked with Bell Labs mathematicians on the mathematics for queuing in voice networks 20 years ago and we were all surprised that Packet voice is worse behaved statistically than Poisson – the standard distribution used for queuing analysis.  I don’t know what this guy used, but what we found was that because packet sources are periodic and can be “in phase”, you can have surprisingly large packet queues in the network even at reasonable overall loads.  )


(Another interesting comment here – this is another case of someone spending a lot of effort to make packet networks behave like circuit networks (i.e. behave like they had a fixed group of trunks).)


2.4      Session 3A – SIP and IMS 1.

 This was a BIG session, well attended.


2.4.1      Olivier Cleuziou and Bruno Chartres (France Telecom) – Triggers in a SIP environment


This talk was a little disappointing to me since I had talked to Bruno about this work a couple of times and had expected something more detailed and a more radical departure from SIP and IMS.  Basically they presented the IMS model for invoking feature servers.  Each user has triggers registered in the HSS that get loaded during a session and are criteria to divert the SIP invite to a feature server.  After that the feature server can be a B2BUA, UA, Proxy, or Redirect server.  The IETF has no discussion of how triggering is done.  TISPAN is covering this for the 3GPP model with the implementation described here.  It needs improvements:


·         Failure based triggers (trigger on busy, no answer, network failure)

·         Global Triggers (trigger on global numbers like 911 and 800)


There are issues in handling redirection.  Sometimes the redirection is to another terminal for the same user in which trigger processing for the user should continue.  Other times it’s “Call Forwarding” to a new user and triggering should now be restarted on the new user.  IMS doesn’t support it now.


Trigger overriding is another potential area for addition.  Application servers should only be able to modify certain fields in an Invite, except that “administrative application servers may override this (i.e. 911).


You also need a way of handling private fields in the messages that shouldn’t b given to the feature server but should be re-inserted in any sessions they proxy (e.g. private numbers, billing info, etc.)


IMS has a simple interaction check to try to determine whether services interact.  It’s not sufficient because some services will always conflict in possibility.  Checking has to be dynamic (an example he gave was prepaid and call routing in that call routing might incur more charges that prepaid hasn’t authorized).  To solve this you need app server to app server communication, which can be done using the SIP body messages or through an external IP connection. (Not sure what’s better).


2.4.2      Ardjan Moerjaik (Ericsson) Combining Circuit Switched and Packet Switch domains for enriched voice services


This talk presented converged services involving IMS and circuit switching. More specificly  you want to allow things like a voice session in conjunction with another media (e.g. Video), where the voice starts out at least as circuit voice.  These things need Simultaneous Voice/Data (Which can be done on GSM and UMTS, but many handsets won’t do it.)


Assuming that the voice goes over the air in circuit form (GSM) there are two options:

  • convert it to packet at the edge and then use packet based IMS to control it
  •  have two parallel sessions with some kind of bridged control (e.g. IN or Parlay controlling the circuit side connected to a feature server controlling the packet side.) 


The second alternative is better for now because it does not involve any real change to the IMS or anything special, just an application coordinating the sessions.


What intelligence goes in the network for this:  Addressing and Charging.  These are not good to do in terminals because of trust and re-use.


3GPP is working on standards for this (May 2004) in 2 stages, first stage the independent sessions model, second stage with more advanced capabilities focused on one session.


2.4.3      Bill Bushnell (Lucent) – IMS as the basis of convergence.


Bill gave a great overview – motivation for convergence is often bundling (he went through the various business models for “triple play”.  One big motivation I didn’t realize is that many of the “separate business” requirements around enhanced services have expired, allowing carriers to bundle basic and advanced services.  Lots of possible interconnections (circuit and fixed to packet and mobile).  Today, commonality is built around IN.  Next it is useful to introduce Parlay and Web services on top of this to basically allow enhanced services delivered in IN.  (Comment – Lucent has a Parlay product, otherwise I can’t imagine why Parlay is a benefit here if there is no regulatory requirement for an open interface, since he wasn’t particularly talking about 3rd party services.  Maybe he meant to be.)


He talked about an interesting service:  presence enabled voicemail – greeting reflects your presence and may have other options for the user (deliver to my mobile phone).


He said Verizon has recently introduced an SCP based Portal (IOBI) where they do web services control telephony.  (I don’t know about this, but someone else told me that Telcordia had come out with a new updated application server so maybe this is a Telcordia add on to their SCP.  Of course another participant told me that Telcordia is in some state of uncertainty because of the intent to sell off the company and that is getting in the way of retaining key people)


The next stage is IMS, where the same server controls both.  This is basically when you can start to do lots of business services.  Parlay is useful here to attach to circuit networks for controlling multiple sessions.


2.5      Session 4B Personalization and Context Management


This session had about 50 people, not bad but clearly of less interest than IMS.  My notes are limited here as I was a speaker in this session.

2.5.1      Warren Montgomery (Personeta) Business and Personal Services Unplugged

My presentation was on delivering high value voice services (Centrex, VPN, etc.) to a mobile endpoint through multiple access networks and multiple terminals.  It was really a message that the Mobile operator had the opportunity to compete with fixed for these high value services.  There was good interest as this was clearly a timely topic (demonstrations by SpeakaNet and Grintel on this drew interest to the area too.)  I had some followup questions in the areas of privacy, profile management, and service delivery, but because the parallel session was service and network architecture focused my audience was probably more interested in the business and user experience aspects.


2.5.2      Risto Monomen (Nokia) Subscriber Identity Management in the Mobile Internet

He basically talked about the Liberty Alliance authentication framework and mechanisms.  Basically your endpoint can be enabled to authenticate once with a server and then supply tokens to other services needing to validate your identity, or it can be done with a proxy which intercepts server requests for authentication and supplies it.  (Rather like password managers on browsers I presume).  A problem is that the service can’t tell when you were authenticated or force re-authentication.  For this a lower layer has been proposed based on GAA session keys – basically you authenticate with a server which supplies you and the “identity server” session keys used for secure communication.  The identity server can then supply tokens either to your client or as a proxy to services. 


2.5.3      Ivar Jorstadt (Norwegian University of Science and Technology Ph.D. Student).  Personalization of Future Mobile Services


He described various types of personalization and mechanisms for it and briefly a mechanism to support it.  My notes were very sketch on this presentation

He initially presented two  kinds of personalization

  • business (features, roles, access, etc.)
  • personal (ring tones, screen layouts, etc.)


He talked about various approaches and ended with personalization by composition – put personalizations together to combine independent personalisations.  Web services has a way to do this (BPL – I think this is Business Process Language), but it’s too complex and needs to be simplified


2.5.4      Tore Jonvik (Oslo University, also a Telenor author on this paper) – Personal Area Networks as a virtual device. 


This one talked about a personal area network of devices that may act as a single endpoint for a user.  Middleware mediates all this.  There is some work on this under another project -- MANET, which focuses on ad hoc networks, but personal networks are different – one device is in charge, others are subservient, and all belong to one user.  (This is a bit like designing peripheral busses)


Devices discover each other and negotiate roles to join networks.  There are Hosts, Routers, and Peripherals.  He discussed authentication and IP addressing.  One issue is that IP may be too much for low power devices, and it’s not clear each device needs an IP address anyway.


The planned work of this group is to explore application migration to the correct device based on power and capability.  They have looked at implementations around Phones and PCs.  Microsoft is pushing a PC perspective, but the question is will people carry them.  Phones may not have enough power for this.

2.6      Session 6B  (Service Architecture)


I arrived late for this session due to a meeting of the program committee and heard part of Rebecca Copeland’s talk (Marconi).  What I heard there and in talking to her during the networking time was similar to a previous talk on service architecture describing the goal of getting to a clean layered architecture but being forced to live with “lumps”.  Her actual analogies were to Pasta (“We want to be building Lasagna (layers) but usually are starting from Spaghetti and wind up with Gnocchi (lumps)”)  I think her slides would be very interesting to look at.


2.7      Session 6A (“Sexy Services”)

This is where the program committee put the service focused talks which seemed to present something new.  There was some discussion on the appropriateness of the name.  Perhaps it will say something about the attendees that while the program committee had given the larger room to this session I believe there were as many or more people in the parallel session on service architecture.


2.7.1      Andre Moreau (Alcatel Belgium) Mobile Gaming: An Emerging Market

I arrived for the tail end of this talk.  I believe it covered the game that was being demonstrated in the demonstration room (though I never had a chance to see it) which was billed as a massively parallel high action game.  Some of the issues included scaling to large number of players and dealing with latencies – HTTP latencies over wireless networks are too long, you need TCP.


2.7.2      Jutta Schutt (Siemens) Push-to-talk over Cellular (PoC) – the New Dimension for Easy Group Communication


Why push to talk – “Walkie Talkie like service.  Easy user interface – pick a user and talk or pick a group and talk.


 (Snide comment here.  Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why this service is popular?  Watching the people with Nextel phones bleep at each other it strikes me as telephonic hell.  As someone who used walkie talkies and had a CB license and equipment in my car for several years I still don’t get this service.  Presence enabled establishment of sessions is great, but the constant handshaking of push to talk and alert the other party is really annoying.  I guess I learned long ago though that just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean the service isn’t popular).


Some ideas were forming dynamic push to talk groups.  PTT is evolving into a multi-media service.  Presence is an important component.  Push to talk can be a streaming service or essentially “Voice SMS”.   Today you have 2 service models, Voice and Messaging centric.  PTT is in the middle.  PTT based on streaming is also essentially multimedia – you can invite someone into a conversation that is multi-media/group based.


“Push to Show” – be able to stream images or video with a PTT invitation.


Architecture – based on IMS.  3 layers of relationship with the terminal (SIP based) – IMS client to IMS, Service enabler to enabling services (Presence, group management)


Client to applications – this is what implements the multi-media conference call.


2.7.3      Frieda Vanparus (Alcatel Denmark) Amigo TV


This was one of a handful of really innovative service papers I saw in the abstracts and the presentation lived up to it.  Amigo TV is a system for watching video with your friends.  You use a headset and a standard remote, plus a set top box.  Each user has access to a buddy list for his social network that shows friends and what they are watching.  Each user can pick an Avatar for the display and use the remote to display emotions.  You can invite your friends to watch the same show, and form group watching experiences where each user’s avatar is presented over the video in a corner of the screen.  Users can chat or use VoIP to talk about the show.  It’s really there to showcase Alcatel’s broadband services platform. 


This is still a concept demo, but it’s implemented and they are about to trial it to get user feedback.


One implementation issue presented was Presence – they evaluated SIMPLE and XMPP as possible presence structures and chose XMPP because it handled groups better.  The downside is it requires a central server for IM and presence.  They use SIP to handle the voice streams and a reflector for conferencing (i.e. each user’s voice stream is delivered to every other and mixed locally. 


One interesting question was can you handle multiple people watching from one location.  This wasn’t a design requirement but they can do it by doing multiple logins from one point.


2.7.4      Olaf Goenwlt (SpeakaNet)  Virtual PBX. 


This talk captured the concept I have been suggesting to several people – the ability to replace land line phones and PBX/Centrex equipment with a software system delivering calls to mobile phones, and more importantly the ability for the mobile carrier to become the primary provider of high value business services.


The basic concept here is a PBX without any terminal equipment, including attendant functionality.  Calls are delivered to mobile handsets using mobile numbers for dialing and access.  Attendant functions are handled via Mobile voice with an IP/Web client that displays busy/idle status of all lines and provides forwarding and other functions.  It’s all built off of Parlay.  They say that Telenor has had 10 tender offers in this area recently.  They are deployed in 3 or 4 networks.


A key factor driving this is a 7 hear replacement cycle for PBX technology.  When one gets replaced, the key decision factor is cost.  They can lower cost by eliminating equipment and eliminating redundant land line CPE.  They say that it’s also a big win for the carrier because in Denmark at least only 1/3 of employees have business mobile phones so it raises usage of the mobile network.  They demoed it running live on a system in Denmark, using forwarded numbers (actually I think just their own handsets roaming) and an IP client plugged into the room.  Very slick.  They first deployed in June, by August had 10 customers signed up (enterprise customers of the carrier with the deployment, with 600 users and an average of 600 Euros/user/year usage.  This is worth a lot of money to the carrier.  They presented an elaborate business case (probably in the slides available on the web, which also considered it from a money saved by the business.  Currently they run only on Parlay networks and don’t touch land line phones.  They run on top of Appium’s platform generally behind and Aepona Parlay gateway.  I really believe this may be a “killer APP” for Parlay if it goes because its one that strikes me as having real money making potential.  My only real questions are performance and reliability, and whether you can solve any mobile coverage issues.


2.8      Session 7A – Parlay X and Web Services

2.8.1      K Knuttel (FOKUS)  -- A Parlay X based Generic Messaging Gateway for the IMS

The “Messaging” in this talk described a user service (e.g. SMS, email, etc.), not messaging used in the implementation.  Why Messaging ?  SMS is where the money is.  Carriers need  building blocks that extend messaging into other applications to create more moneymakers.


Why Parlay?  Momentum, lots of APIs.  Parlay 5.0 will include J2EE bindings.  Specifically they looked at Parlay X.  Feel it is more implementation specific than Parlay but still protocol and language independent (only dependence is on web services).  Version 1.1 (current) has 8 modules, Version 2.0 will have a complete service framework.  Instant Messaging and SMS are supported through the APIs, and he feels it is efficient (not sure what he meant by it).


They built a messaging gateway that exposes the Parlay X APIs.  Internally it uses a messaging router which at the bottom delivers to several different forwarders, for MMS, SIP, or any other.  They can basically decouple the adaptation from the specific external interface.  Adaptation does things like converting between the parlay X messaging APIs and standard Email, SMS, MMS, SIMPLE, etc, and is independent of the actual protocol used to deliver.


He went through the architecture of their IMS.  They implement all the key functions for IMS.  They have a relationship with T-Mobile on this which I think means T-Mobile is deploying this. 


Convergent Services doesn’t mean Circuit and Packet, it means multi-media (i.e. user doesn’t see packets and circuits, let’s stop talking about technology convergence and start talking about service convergence).


2.8.2      Joana Silva (Concordia University Montreal, a student working with Ericsson)  Web Services for Conferencing in 3G Networks

The paper was really an investigation of the performance of Web Services in building conferencing services.  She investigated Web Services as a service delivery interface versus Parlay over Corba.  Her service for investigation was a complex multi-party conference call.  She didn’t use the Parlay X APIs but instead built web services based components that provided conferencing (Parlay X doesn’t currently support conference calls and working around it would have been awkward).  She was looking at implementation difficulty and performance.


Interesting result – Web Services function calls are much heavier weight, but you make a lot fewer of them because the components are higher level.  The result is a lower performance penalty than you may expect when you look at it from the perspective of what it takes to implement an application.  Parlay is also very complex to program – you have to know a lot about the underlying components.  Web Services is in principle simple.  She compared program size and had very large differences, especially if the Web Services program used automatically generated programming stubs.  (Comment – I don’t know whether she also looked at stubs for Corba.  Corba is very tedious if you don’t have support for generating the function calls).


Overall her evaluation was based on total delay to set up a conference.  About 20% longer with web services.  (With the way this was evaluated it will always be longer since the Web Services components invoke the same underlying Parlay capabilities as the services built straight on Parlay).  Time delay for any individual function varied to up to 6 times as long.  She also looked at network overhead.  The web services implementation sent 2-3 times as many bytes over the network (again for individual primitives it was up to 6 to 1, but you made a lot fewer web services calls.)


I asked about delay in response to a network event and overall capacity.  She hadn’t looked at either.


(Comment here on web services for service creation.  After several days of looking at these systems I conclude that mostly what people are doing with them is 3rd party initiated sessions (e.g. click to call or conference), not network driven services (e.g. 800 number routing).  Performance is a much less critical concern here because of two issues.  First the services are typically smaller and separable (i.e. a single service has fewer service invocations per second), and more important they don’t have timing requirements based on the network timing models (e.g. IN timers running on SCP responses)). 

2.8.3      Fabrigio Proenzale (TI Labs)  Web Services enhancing Wireline


Web Services are a nice delivery framework, but remember that more bytes in the messages and text messages means more time and network bandwidth.  He also pointed out another issue which may or may not be real – Because they are human readable, there is a more significant security risk.  (Comment, I think this is a red herring – with protocol analyzers everything becomes human readable).


Another point he made was controversial – he claimed that Web Services isn’t well suited to asynchronous events.  This generated considerable discussion both in the questions and in after session networking.  The Web Services invocation/execution model is stateless, which makes handling asynchronous events hard, but individual services don’t have to be.  I believe the real answer is that Web Services doesn’t offer any framework to support Asynchronous processing, but it doesn’t prevent it either.  Of course building software that responds to asynchronous events is traditionally a hard problem and a source of errors so the lack of any support for the developer may be a real issue.


He talked about an example – WebCard, which was a prepaid service for  dialup internet access.  They used Web Services in conjunction with Parlay based call control to do it. 


He cited some additions needed to Parlay X in order to really address the needs specific to Fixed Networks:

  • Play Audio
  • Fax management and fax conversion
  • IP traffic Management.


Dave Ludlam asked an interesting question – How does a Web Services implementation address the 90% of the code that traditionally goes to error handling?  The answer that came here was that lots of this gets bundled into the WS components with fewer things exposed to the developer.  In discussions with Dave later, I think this is a real concern.  Much of the complexity in traditional telecom services is building in service specific behaviors for every conceivable combination of asynchronous things the user and the network may do.  This often isn’t in the simple definition of a service (e.g. “click to call” doesn’t tell you what happens if the person invoking it doesn’t answer their phone and it goes to voicemail, whose caller ID gets displayed under lots of conditions around who the people are, etc.)  The need for these things to be service specific means you can’t bury them in the components and forget them.  Lack of service specific handling of “error legs” is a major source of user dissatisfaction with internet and IT services).


2.9      Session 8A Service Mobility Technologies


2.9.1      Kenichi OTO (NTT)  Seamless delivery on multiple networks. 


This talk was really about moving sessions between multiple networks.  The service example he used was a video stream that could be moved from a TV to a PDA to a PC and connected via cable, Wireles LAN, and GPRS.


He talked about terminal mobility (how to let the terminal move between access networks).  3 approaches:


  • Virtual LAN (Layer 2) This requires managing MAC addresses but is fast.
  • Mobile IP (Layer 3) – Solutions for this are often slow in switching
  • Net Motion (Session Layer)  This requires application awareness


What he was really looking at was Service mobility – Services that continue as the user moves across terminals.  Here there were two approaches:

  • Server Based – Terminal is “dumb” and the display is projected onto multiple terminals in sequence
  • Session Control Protocol based (SIP, H.323)  This needs application level support for mobility

He described the video streaming example and demonstrated that they could move the session, and that most of the delay (a few seconds) was buffering and device turn on delay and not service mobility.

This was technically interesting, but I wonder what the real demand for migrating sessions between terminals actually is.


2.9.2      R. Skraba (Alcatel)  Multimedia Messaging to Heterogeneous Networks.


This talk was about selecting the best way to deliver MMS to a mobile terminal – Basic message was that if you could connect either via WiFi or GPRS, you may want to manage when you deliver messages to make use of WiFi when possible.  If the current radio environment doesn’t support high bandwidth and you have a large message to deliver or upload you may want to wait until the terminal moves in range of a faster radio network.  This also has power benefits since it takes less power to use WiFi for a few seconds than it does to use GPRS for a few minutes.


The talk described an architecture which allowed a Mobile carrier to support hotspot access (and payments) by having the terminal authenticate using GPRS to essentially establish the right to use the WiFi network.  They prototyped using J2ME using a laptop because they could not get a J2ME based phone at the time. 


2.9.3      J. Diagremont (Alcatel) – Bluetooth based location.


The basic idea here was to use a non-networked Bluetooth transceiver deployed in a location to allow terminals to detect their location and then deliver services specific to that location.  The Mac address of the transceiver becomes a Tag that the terminal transmits to a database which then establishes the location of the terminal.  To minimize power, the Transciever operates as a Bluetooth master and the terminal as a slave.  To emphasize, Bluetooth is used only to exchange the “tag” to establish location.

They trialed this in the Orange network.  In his view the transceivers would cost 50-100 Euros.  (Comment -- That’s too high from what I would think if this is really practical).


A couple of key questions were – Why not just deliver services over Bluetooth (well that way the operator doesn’t get involved at all.  The intended use was delivering “helpful messages” in malls and near stores)

Second, would RFID or some other technology work as well (They considered this but didn’t really explore it).


2.10Session 9  Innovation in Business


2.10.1 Kriss Kimbler (Appium) Create new Opportunities with Telecom Web Services


Kris’s talk was basically a sales pitch for Appium’s product, an application platform that sits on Parlay and exposes Web Services APIs both internally and externally.  It was disappointing to get a sales pitch, but Appium was a key sponsor for the conference.


Why are open systems important -> Operators can’t address niche markets effectively because they are small compared to the operator’s business, but they are big for a 3rd party specialist.  They are increasingly important.

Also Operators don’t own content, so they need open interfaces to support partnerships with those who can supply it.


Is OSA/Parlay enough?

  • Too complicated
  • Operators aren’t eager to expose it
  • Wont go through firewalls (this is really a 3rd party issue)
  • Came out at a bad time (2000) nobody was investing.  Parlay has lost the market window.


Parlay X – Make it simple enough for 15 year old kids to build services.  (Comment – not sure what this says about the error leg and operations)  The intent here is simple services, not complex applications like a call center (Comment – supports my view that the focus of the web services service creation isn’t traditional services triggered from the network).

To accomplish this the platform has to provide 3 layers:

  • abstraction (Parlay, SIP, Web Services as input (interestingly enough he didn’t say anything about SS7 protocols.  My guess is that Appium doesn’t do them)
  • service logic execution (He never mentioned J2EE or EJB though it was clearly Java based),
  • service exposure to 3rd parties (Web Services).


He described a solution for a global operator.  (I think this is Orange – it looks just like a recent RFI and he used them as an example) – Put a Web Services gateway on each network, then put a service platform in the center that integrates them.


Appium can run applications in the server (Carrier applications) and can support 2.5K Web services transactions per second.  (Comment – sure, but doing what?)


2.10.2 John O’Connell (HP, speaking for the VASA forum)  Opportunities and Challenges in Broadband Services

John presented a summary of the VASA Forum’s two recent RFI’s on broadband services.  These were on services in general and one specifically on broadband enhancing traditional voice services.  The VASA report will be published separately.  (Comment – I was one of the authors on the full report which will be published later)


2.10.3 Corodo Moiso (TI Labs)  Service Broker:  Identifying a new role in the mobile service provisioning value chain


He talked a lot about service broker as a network function.  A Service broker is a trusted intermediary between users and services.  Has to keep users happy by managing privacy and providing ease of use and keep users happy by managing payments, common profiles, etc.  The Parlay model doesn’t support all of it, so you need some other pieces:

  • Parlay X (easy integration)
  • Liberty Alliance (single sign on)
  • Pay Circle (payment management)

2.10.4 Tony Houghton (BT) 3rd Millenium Networks and Services:  Where’s the Expectation Shock.

His fundamental message was quite simple:  To succeed you have to exceed customer’s expectations, not what they describe as their needs or desires.  This is what he described as “expectation shock”.  He gave a lot of examples of this.  They did a lot of surveys on various services, discovering what was important, how the user expected the service to perform, and how they rated it.  Reliability, Security, and speed were areas which in many services were very important but with low expectations.


One notable quote:  “IT is like Telco was 60 years ago – not used to dealing with customers, customers have awful expectations” – Dave Ludlam


Tipping – you tip in proportion to how much the experience exceeds your expectation.

SMS – had low expectations and delivered something useful, users loved it.

WAP – hyped, high expectations, failed.


(Comment – Maybe there is something here about airlines – Discount airlines are in fact worse than major carriers, but your expectations are so low people like them, while United, American, Delta, et al can’t get away with poor service because your expectations are high).


(Comment – so we will all succeed if we figure out how to lower customer expectations?)