The new 4G networks will incorporate IPv6 and IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS). IPv4 is currently (slowly) being superceded by IPv6. The shortcoming of IPv4 was the limited number of IP addresses which forced operators to use complex addressing schemes to squeeze more devices using a limited number of IP addresses. IPv6 offers one IP address for every square meter on the face of the earth, which should, for the foreseeable future, provide enough IP addresses for any number of mobile 4G devices.
IMS provides an architecture for 4G service providers to offer an array of IP-based services (VoIP and IPTV, for example) over any IP-enabled “pipe” (copper wire, coaxial cable, wireless). 4G service providers will need to incorporate IMS-based routers and other infrastructure in their networks. This will present yet another expense (billions of dollars?) and engineering challenge for incumbent service providers (cellular providers, for example) to re-engineer their existing networks to provide a “quadruple play” of voice (VoIP), video (IPTV and other forms of video), data and mobile versions of voice, video and data. In short, IMS should enable 4G service providers to offer “any service on any device”.
In summary, offering 4G services nation wide (US) on a 4G network will require a very substantial investment by the service provider regardless of whether they are an incumbent cellular provider or a new market entrant. Attempting to leverage 1990’s networks into a 4G service offering may only disappoint subscribers and investors alike.
By: Frank Ohrtman
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