October 29, 2008

GMI 2008 Now Underway – With Support From ATIS

October 20th marked the launch of GMI 2008 - the MultiService Forum's (MSF) massive biennial interoperability event spanning three continents. This year's event, reflecting the growing recognition of the vital role of IMS in enabling network service integration, is bigger than ever - with more vendors and more products facing a greater number of demanding 'real world' test situations.

"What's unique about our work" commented Roger Ward, President of the MSF, "is the way our members have collaborated to define six networked test scenarios of practical interest to major carriers as a focus for validating the MSF Release 4 architectural framework and supporting Implementation Agreements (IAs). With five major carriers and test labs hosting GMI 2008, we have had no trouble in attracting leading vendors from three continents to participate and are sure that we will achieve results that will be of great value both to MSF members and to the industry as a whole.

"In GMI 2008, interoperability testing is conducted first within each lab, and then between labs, for each of the six test scenarios. With so many results to collate, a customized test capture tool had to be developed specifically for this event, giving the MSF a unique capability to capture, automatically aggregate, and analyze globally distributed test results" Ward noted.

"The work being done during GMI 2008 is laying the groundwork for enormous change in the consumption of information in any format from any network on any equipment, anywhere. IMS is more than a platform; it is a system that will enable the true convergence of services, using some very dynamic blends of network and Internet functions," said Mark Wegleitner, Verizon senior vice president of technology.

A particular emphasis on emerging IPTV applications has been underlined by the co-operation between the MSF and the Alliance for Telecommunications Solutions (ATIS). This is the first time the MSF has formally partnered with a standards organization and the resulting synergy is being hailed as a vital development for the future of IPTV. ATIS, through its IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), has long been a strong player in the developments of IPTV standards, while the MSF is renowned for its ability to validate critical NGN technologies.

"ATIS is pleased to have partnered with the MSF during this interoperability event which provides such important feedback to the industry," said Susan Miller, President and CEO of ATIS. "We anticipate the validation of two key standards developed by the ATIS IIF that will provide critical groundwork for coordinating and managing elements and services in the IPTV ecosystem. This will be a springboard for increasing real world deployments of IPTV and set the stage for standards to support advanced IPTV services."

GMI 2008 breaks all previous records with twenty-two vendor participants and some 225 devices under test. The six physical scenarios include 82 basic test cases with nearly 500 test permutations. Reflecting the two years work behind the event, over 600 pages of test plans have kept 125 test engineers busy around the clock during the twelve days of the event.

The first two physical scenarios test End-to-End Session Control, with QoS, for a range of access technologies - baseband, broadband, 3GPP, WIMAX, 3GPP2 & TD-SCDMA - over a converged core network. The third scenario addresses IPTV, with an emphasis on specifications developed by the ATIS IIF. This is the first time standardized IPTV is being put to the test in a network context to validate automatic configuration of set top boxes, and to deliver true quality of experience.

The continuing growth in feature-rich mobile telephony underlines the significance of the fourth scenario: location based services, including routing and privacy issues. The solution under test is designed to work synergistically with that of other organizations such as NENA, and will make use of standards already in place.

Scenario five, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), integrates IMS with web-based services. This scenario is designed to test the capability for carriers to access a virtually unlimited range of services for a public that is increasingly demanding the full richness of web services both at home and on the move. The final scenario addresses management issues, in particular the on-line management of IPTV set top boxes and collection of IPTV related statistics without the cost and delay that results from the servicing truck-rolls of today's TV systems.

"With today's consumers driving change, services need to be launched and upgraded more quickly than ever before" commented BT's Raymond Zhang, Chief Network Architect. "BT has always been a leading supporter of GMI, as it provides us with a platform to rigorously test multi-vendor solutions with NGN technology to underpin a new generation of converged services. The lessons learnt in these GMI interoperability events definitely help BT make the right implementation decisions."

About GMI 2008

GMI 2008 - the Global MSF Interoperability event - will link major carrier labs on three continents in a major demonstration of multi-vendor interoperability between a significant number of NGN elements supporting Implementation Agreements developed in support of the MSF Release 4 Architecture and practical deployment scenarios of interest to major carriers. GMI 2008 uses a networked distributed test environment comprising five host sites: Verizon, NCS and UNH-IOL in the USA, BT/Vodafone in Europe, and China Mobile in Asia.

About the MSF

The MultiService Forum (MSF) is a global association of service providers, system suppliers and test equipment vendors committed to developing and promoting open-architecture, multiservice Next Generation Networks. Founded in 1998, the MSF is an open-membership organization comprised of the world's leading telecommunications companies. The MSF's activities include developing Implementation Agreements, promoting worldwide compatibility and interoperability of network elements, and encouraging input to appropriate national and international standards bodies.


About ATIS

ATIS is a technical planning and standards development organization that is committed to providing leadership for, and the rapid development and promotion of, worldwide technical and operations standards for information, entertainment and communications technologies using a pragmatic, flexible, and open approach. Participants from more than 300 communications companies are active in ATIS' twenty-two industry committees and Incubator Solutions Program.