Cedar Point Communications is starting to carve out integration work intended to provide "operational simplicity" as cable operators start to migrate to the PacketCable Release 2 architecture and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technology.

Cedar Point, however, is a bit of a different animal in the PacketCable world. Rather than taking a distributed approach, its SAFARI C3 platform pre-integrates several PacketCable 1.x network elements, including the call management server, media gateway, signaling gateway and CALEA server, into one logical device.

IMS, a technology born out of the wireless world and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), keys on the convergence of wireless and wireline services. With peering added to the mix, those services can be provided even when customers roam outside of the cable operator's traditional territory.

Mobility is key. If that's not part of an operator's strategy, IMS is "probably overhead that you wouldn't want to spend right now," said Cedar Point EVP of Strategy & Market Development David Spear.

Cedar Point, which has lived historically in the access layer of the new IMS architecture, already supports several "core" IMS capabilities, including applications based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Spear added. Because of its PacketCable 1.x roots, the company's platform can concurrently support non-SIP, NCS (Network-based Call Signaling) voice services.

"The building blocks are there for the converged system," Spear said, noting that operators can use the same SAFARI C3 hardware as they transition from PacketCable 1.x to PacketCable Release 2.

That same hardware, however, will need to be integrated so that it properly interfaces with a new set of core, control plane IMS network elements such as the HSS (Home Subscriber Server) and CSCF (Call Session Control Function), as well as third-party application servers. 

Spear said IMS migration strategies will vary among MSOs, depending on their size and technical and financial wherewithal. Generally, tier-1 operators will want to bring in IMS core capabilities, including the core network elements.

Cedar Point has customers that fit into those various levels of subscribers, from large ops such as Comcast Corp., Charter Communications and Insight Communications, to those that qualify in the mid-to-small tier, such as Bresnan Communications, Buckeye CableSystem, and Atlantic Broadband, among others.

Like other PacketCable vendors, Cedar Point is starting up its IMS integration work, and hopes to announce some of its partners by the 2006 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, slated to run June 20-23 in Denver.