'Who's who' in IPX

As the market for IP Exchange services has started to grow, so the ranks of IPX providers has also begun to swell, with many heavyweight telecoms service providers now offering access to their IPX networks and IPX-based services. Innovation Observatory has compiled a list of leading IPX providers...and we have identified a short-list of some of those IPX providers that believe are setting the pace in terms of growth and product / service innovation. The market includes IPX providers that have come from a voice background, players that have specialised in the provision of roaming support services, as well as global carriers that have offered a complete range of voice, data, roaming and signalling services. Many are still in the market entry phase, with a few dozen initial customers, often existing GRX or signalling buyers. Some are succeeding in driving customer base growth and are signing customers for newer IPX-based services such as LTE roaming. Major IPX providers are listed in the table below:

Company IPX details
Aicent IPX launched May 2010. Its full portfolio of services is now delivered across its IPX network. It has a particularly strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Its background is in providing interoperability solutions for mobile operators. Aicent has an IPX peering agreement with BICS to extend its global reach. Publicly named IPX customers include China Mobile Hong Kong, and SK Telecom.
Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS) One of the earliest entrants to the IPX market. It is one of the world’s largest international voice carriers, which is reflected in its IPX customer base which includes many buyers of IP voice services, and fixed and mobile operators. It has an IPX peering agreement with Aicent. BICS has an established LTE roaming service already with ten active customers.
BT BT launched IPX services in 2009, with an emphasis on voice, and in particular interoperability of TDM and IP voice. It has subsequently added Sigtran, GRX and video. Its network is HD-voice ready, and the company has signed up nearly 300 IPX customers – most of them buying VoIP break-in or break-out to TDM.
CITIC International Telecom CITIC International Telecom announced its IPX availability in September 2010. It offers a broad range of services including voice, data and roaming solutions over its IPX network. It is positioned as an IPX gateway into mainland China.
Colt Colt is a provider of VoIP services over its IPX-compliant network, and is offering services to smaller customers needing high quality solutions between the 22 countries in which it owns networks. It is targeting IPX at wholesale customers and is offering VoIP aggregation services. It also offers access to a voice trading platform.
Comfone Comfone is a specialist provider of wholesale roaming services. It has introduced its IPX network to support roaming services with increased quality of service and to support LTE roaming and interoperability.
DT ICSS Deutsche Telekom ICSS was one of the first operators to launch an IPX network. Its initial proposition was focused on data. Deutsche Telekom has subsequently established its IPX with a significant number of major customers for its IPX services. It now has a broad portfolio of IPX services including support for IPX voice hubbing as well as for RCS-e / RCS-5.
Etisalat Etisalat is emerging as a significant IPX provider for the Middle East and Africa. Its IPX solution accompanies a wider hubbing strategy which is enabling Etisalat to position itself as a gateway to the region. Its role is being strengthened by peering partnerships with many major international content and application providers seeking closer proximity of their data to customers.
iBasis iBasis has an extensive IPX network, based on its own infrastructure and supported by its IPX peering agreement with Telecom Italia Sparkle, and IPX interconnect services being provided through AMS-IX. It started with a strong voice focus but now also deliver GRX and signalling over its IPX network. Named customers include E-Plus, KPN, Reliance Communications (India) and UNE (Colombia).
NTT Com NTT Com formally announced the launch of IPX over its IP network in February 2012. Initially offered services include IPX voice, GRX and roaming signalling.
Orange Wholesale Orange Wholesale formally entered the IPX market in May 2012. It has a strong multi-service focus and does not count customers taking only VoIP/TDM interoperability or only GRX services over its MPLS network (of which it has many) as IPX customers. As a group Orange has taken a strong leadership position with regard to HD voice, is rolling out HD services in key markets and is working on supporting HD internationally over its IPX.
PCCW Global PCCW provides IPX voice, data and signalling services over its Intercarrier Interconnect global IP/MPLS network. It is one of the first to offer managed HD video communications and managed HD voice and videoconferencing.
Sybase 365 Sybase 365 entered the IPX market from its position as a provider of global roaming, messaging and GRX solutions for mobile operators. It has moved into new territory with the introduction of its IPX voice service and also been swift to launch (and announce customers for) LTE roaming. Named IPX customers include Globe Telecom, China Mobile Hong Kong, Total Access Communications, CSL Hong Kong and Korean companies SK Telink and KT Corporation, Telecom New Zealand and Bhutan’s TashiCell.
Syniverse Syniverse launched its IPX in 2009, and now offers a broad range of services over IPX including voice, roaming, signalling and messaging. It was early to market with its LTE roaming testing solution. It also offers mobile video interoperability. Named IPX customers include The Bahamas Telecommunications Company and SmarTone.
Tata Communications Tata Communications has a strong (but not exclusive) focus on mobile operators for its IPX network. Its IPX+ mobile broadband enablement framework includes GRX with QoS, signalling over IPX, and as you would expect from the world’s largest voice carrier, voice over IPX interconnect.
Telefonica International Wholesale TIWS’s IPX service, launched in 2011, is offered in Europe, North and South America and Africa, and will be extended to Central America in 2013. TIWS offers access to virtually all of its services over IPX including IMS interworking, videocalling, and roaming WiFi as well as more common IPX services.
Telecom Italia Sparkle Sparkle has introduced IPX services as an evolution of its GRX platform, and offers services over its own extensive network, which includes a strong presence in South America. Services provided include GRX, voice, messaging and roaming.
TeliaSonera International Carrier Whilst TICS has not marketed the launch of an IPX service it has been offering IPX-equivalent services (meeting the requirements of end-to-end quality, hop numbers, and the ability to buy multiple services over a single MPLS connection) for a number of years. It owns one of the most extensive global network infrastructures of any carrier, giving it the ability to control end-to-end quality of service without reliance on third parties.
Telstra Global Telstra Global launched its IPX solution in May 2012. It has a broad data-focused portfolio, with depth of coverage in the Asia-pacific region. It is positioning IPX as a platform for new service creation.
TNS Inc TNS operates an IPX network spanning North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. A strong feature of TNS’s strategy is the introduction of value added services designed to help its customers generate incremental revenue, or reduce costs. This model was developed serving the financial services business and has been extended to the mobile telecoms market.
XConnect A carrier-neutral service provider offering interworking hubs and federation services. It offers service aware IP interconnect, including between IPX providers acting as an IPX proxy.

Whilst the providers in the IPX market come from a number of different backgrounds, they are all converging on a similar market positions, offering a combination of roaming, hubbing, transit and interoperability services over IPX networks. The figure below shows the mix of services that make up the IPX market.

Picture showing range of IPX providers' service offerings

In broad terms, most IPX providers offer services across the red layer of established services (except WiFi roaming which is offered by fewer providers); they are working towards offering services in the emerging services (green) layer, and they selectively offer services in the VAS (orange) layer. They vary in terms of whether they can offer the services at the network (blue) layer. Some have very little infrastructure, others have extensive networks. White paper services from Innovation Observatory

Our report Global IP Exchange: Current Status and Future Prospects includes detailed profiles and comparative tables of network ownership and service offers of all these IPX providers. More information about the report can be found here. All of the providers highlighted here are credible global players with their own strengths, and weaknesses. However Innovation Observatory feels some currently stand out.

Companies that deserve a special mention

Identifying the leading lights is tricky in a market where some of the providers are deliberately vague about how many customers they have (even off the record). It is also problematic in a situation where companies with less international network, and a greater focus on hubbing models, can more quickly convert their customers to IPX by upgrading their core network, and running everything over IPX by default. However, in the course of our conversations with IPX providers, wholesale buyers and our own analysis of the way the IPX market is shaping up, we have identified a few IPX providers we believe are making the early running:

IPX voice award BT – Unlike many of the major network owners in the IPX market, BT is not affiliated with any mobile operators. So unlike those that do, it does not have sitting tenants that give it automatic revenue streams. As a result BT has worked hard to attract customers, with a very strong (though not exclusive) focus on voice services. It leads the market in terms of IPX voice contracts, and in terms of its drive to add value to voice. Its focus on interoperability between the TDM voice and the many variants of VoIP, and its focus on quality (with extensive tests before customers move onto its IPX network) match well with the characteristics that customers tell us they are seeking in IPX providers.
IPX vision winner award Telstra Global – As it is new to the IPX market, Telstra Global does not yet have hundreds of customers on its books. We have singled it out because of the way it is emphasizing the need for partnerships with OTT service providers and hosting companies to drive IPX growth. Telstra Global presents a vision for IPX networking which shows it clearly understands the potential for IPX to be a platform for new service creation and delivery, as opposed to a means of simply sustaining the wholesale status quo.
IPX commitment winner award Orange Wholesale – Another newcomer to the IPX market, Orange is included for conviction and commitment to the IPX vision. It is developing value added voice services (such as HD voice) for delivery over its IPX, and it aims to have most Orange group mobile operators using its IPX in very short order.
Network and portfolio award BICS – Belgacom International Carrier Services is identified as a market leader because it has one of the most extensive IPX customer bases, encompassing customers for legacy and new services, including IPX voice, and LTE roaming. It also has one of the broadest and most balanced portfolios (both in terms of services offered, and customers acquired), and unlike some other IPX providers can underpin these services with one of the most extensive (and owned) global networks.
Service portfolio award Sybase 365 – now that it has introduced voice over IPX Sybase 365 has one of the largest portfolios of services – including a broad set of value added offers. It has a leading position in the development of LTE roaming services with a number of publically announced customers. It is also able to claim customers who have publicly said they will put all their roaming data and voice services over its IPX. It is showing that the multiservice model works, and it is for this reason that we have given it the service portfolio award.
Rapid innovation award Syniverse – One of the earliest to the IPX market Syniverse, (and by the time it has acquired Mach easily the largest provider of roaming-related data and financial clearing and settlement services), Syniverse has developed a strong LTE portfolio, with LTE roaming available from early 2011, and an end-to-end LTE test-bed now established to help it drive customers to its IPX as their LTE networks are launched. It has been consistently fast to market with its IPX-based offers, and at signing up customers for those services. It has one of the largest IPX customer bases amongst the carrier-neutral providers of IPX services.
Quality commitment award TeliaSonera International Carrier - wins the award for honesty in description of its services, and its commitment to quality as a critical underpinning for IPX networks and services.

If you feel your business should be included in this ‘Who's who’ of IPX providers - which we will be maintaining and evolving - please get in touch and tell us why at: enquiries@innovationobservatory.com. Also, if you feel our choices of current market leaders are controversial, or just plain wrong, let us know what you think. If we get convincing evidence, or find we get embroiled in a great debate, we will post your feedback online here. (Note we will not be repeating any PR fluff you send our way!).

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