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TIMES - The Inter-operator IM and Mobile IM service
For further information please contact:

Uwe Herzog
Programme Manager
Wieblinger Weg 19/4
69123 Heidelberg, Germany

Project Information
What is this project about?

In the last years, Instant Messaging has been a huge success in the PC world, in addition, services based on location (LBS) and Mobile Presence have shown their business potential giving Telco’s the unique opportunity to play a strong role in its value chain and make profit from it.
Projects like LOCAWA (P1208), Mobile Presence (P1204), Instant Messaging (P1345) and SPEED (P1346) have identified and analyzed the “bottlenecks” that hinder the expected success such as dealing with third parties and content providers (Business/Market context), the lack of an adequate and reliable Service Delivery Platform, international service roaming and interoperability.
However, the instant messaging market suffer from various division, amongst operators as well as protocols, and such problems hindered the success of operator-runned IM services.
The major players – AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! – are using proprietary protocols and thus not interoperable. Specific mediator or translator software is available, but still the division is a big nuisance. Users have to choose carefully which client software they are using, and often end up in installing half a dozen different chat clients. In addition, most every system has its own user names and passwords.

In the mobile world as well, division resulting from different operator strategic decisions (economics, politics) are slowing down development of IM services. Technologically, there are no common transport layer protocols or data formats.
SMS and MMS are closed and operator controlled systems that are carried with control data in GSM networks, while IM is carried by IP. SMS and MMS messages can be transported into and out from IP networks via SMS and MMS centres or other specific gateways, but it always takes an operator to deliver the message to the mobile phone.
Newer messaging schemes in mobile networks include Wireless Village. WV is also a closed system in the sense that it relies on servers within the mobile network, but there exists gateway functionality to outside systems, which is defined in the specifications. (WV includes presence data as specified in the IETF standardization)
3GPP release 6 IMS subsystem takes IETF-specified SIP/SIMPLE to its native messaging and presence protocol, which makes it directly compatible with any other SIP/SIMPLE systems. Specifications are still being finalized at 3GPP and IETF.
On another front, mobile devices may use GPRS for generic always-on IP connectivity, and thereon deploy any IM system now available, like Jabber. This does, however, inherit all the interoperation problems that exist in IM world today, but at the same time brings an already established IM community to the mobile world.
For an operator to launch successful IM services, this is not sufficient to choose carefully a good platform, but also to have sufficient interoperability with other systems, as the value of IM systems is proportional to the number of users available trough them, being separated from any other important network would hinder users' willingness to use such services.

What are the main objectives of this project?

The focus is on the analysis of different IM and presence standards, the development of a plan or strategy to ensure interoperation between operators and their platforms and the creation of a testbed where IM services interoperability can be developed and tested. The users' desires and acceptance will also be studied under the angle of interoperability.

The main objectives of this proposal are to:

  • Identify and analyze the IM standards that are relevant for each operator.
  • Study of interoperability issues
  • Development of a testbed
  • Development and testing of Mobile IM services
  • Analysis of VAS on top of the Mobile IM Platform. (Enhancements towards a Presence Service )
  • Exchange of technological knowledge and experience (testing different software clients, servers, platforms, etc.)
  • Analysis of current usage of IM systems and needed features for a successful (Mobile) IM service.
  • Analysis of possible pricing models for the service and between Operators if an inter-operator (Mobile) IM service is launched.
  • Analyze the issue of connecting the operators’ user database in order to create an inter-operator community, including Number and Name portability between SMS, Instant Messenger and email.
  • Identify and analyze possible political, economical or strategic issues when connecting to one of the big actors like ICQ, MSN or Yahoo.
  • Identify and analyze any technical issues that arise when connecting to big actors such as MSN, ICQ and Yahoo.


Project Results