The Gradual Rollout of IP eXchange and Its Potential Implications on the Enterprise

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • The main idea behind IPX is end-to-end QoS for both mobile and fixed IP traffic.  Mobile data and video are about to go on a bungee jump driven by handset and LTE evolution, and IPX is designed to ensure that improved qualities can be delivered on new offerings.
  • At the moment, a handful of global wholesale providers offer early-stage IPX, and many more are expected to follow suit.

Thus far, IPX has provided real benefits on single-provider platforms to deliver HD voice and premium VoIP.  Companies such as BT Wholesale, KPN/iBasis, DT ICSS, TI Sparkle, France Telecom Orange, A1 Telekom Austria, TeliaSonera International Carrier and Tata Communications are all examples of IPX providers with full commercial products available.  We are likely to see more such bilateral agreements in the short term.  Carriers report that mobile voice calls last longer when the voice quality is better.  To put some numbers on this and get some idea of how much longer: BT Wholesale cites around 10% longer call times, whilst TI Sparkle reports increases approaching 40%.  Business clients might surmise that this potentially leads to raised corporate efficiency in closing deals, as both parties can actually hear what the other is talking about, as well as for solving technical issues and so on.

However, take-up has been slow outside of premium VoIP and HD VoIP due to the fact that some standards still need to be hammered out.  From the outset, IPX was meant to support end-to-end QoS and a cascading payments structure so that each IPX provider gets paid across multiple IPXs, but this setup does not really work at this point in time.  Moreover, the industry faces the challenge of working out commercial models, namely how the mobile operator is to pay the fixed line carrier providing the backhaul.  The classical pay-per-minute structure between wireless operator and fixed line provider may very well migrate to standard structures for data transport, and there is likely to be disruption and pain as the market evolves.  Currently around 40+ mobile handset models are HD-compliant, and BT Wholesale points out that communications providers first need to deploy HD-compliant equipment in order to deliver HD voice.  Tata Communications’ future vision is to have glass-to-glass video conference on mobile devices via multiple interconnected IPXs.  The message to enterprise users is this: future developments of IPX and the emergence of LTE and new handsets will bring interesting multimedia and communications applications to the market.  There will also surely be some new communications and collaboration applications that have not been invented yet, but will continue to drive and evolve how we do business.

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