Archive for the ‘Vendor’ Category

PCRF: A Vital Component in the Service Provider’s Network

Guest blog written by Udayabhanu Parida, Product Manager, Simulators, Wireless Division, EXFO

Guest blog written by Udayabhanu Parida, Product Manager, Simulators, Wireless Division, EXFO

With the wireless industry moving toward a unified IP network carrying both voice and data traffic, policy and charging rules function (PCRF) will be taking on an increasingly important role in managing the service provider’s network resources and monetization of service usage. And, with the planned adoption of Voice over LTE (VoLTE), PCRF will be playing an increasingly vital role in the network.

A key component of building a fast and reliable wireless network includes extensive testing of the network elements (NEs), in this case PCRF in the test labs before deployment. In test labs, PCRF is normally tested with other real NEs, such as PDN GW. Such a test setup does not fully exercise the functionality, performance or capacity of PCRF, because PCRF not only communicates with single PDN GW, but multiple PDN GWs. PCRF also communicates with policy control enforcement function (PCEF), such as deep-packet-inspection (DPI), online-charging-system (OCS), and offline-charging-system (OFCS) functions, as well as other PCRFs (visited), call session control function (CSCF), serving gateway (SGW), gateway GPRS support node (GGSN), traffic detection function (TDF) and more.

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Adding Capacity Is a “Small Cell” Matter

Philip Sorrells, Vice president of strategic marketing, Commscope

Philip Sorrells, Vice president of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

This Guest Post was written by Philip Sorrells, VP of Strategic Marketing, CommScope

Everybody’s talking about them, but what exactly is a small cell? In many people’s minds, a small cell is a very low power femto cell, installed in a home or office. It’s a radio device. In my mind (and in many others, too), a small cell is anything that is not a typical macro site, deployed to solve a network capacity problem.

Small cells can be indoor or outdoor. They can vary in power level. Some are carrier grade, some are for consumers. But what defines a small cell is not one of these characteristics, but rather what a small cell is trying to do-add capacity in some manner besides a standard macro site.

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What is Unknown RF Antenna position costing your company?

This guest post was written by John Vetter, VP of Business Development, Sunsight

Directional RF antenna installations are not always dantennaone to carrier RF design specifications for azimuth, mechanical tilt and roll.  Some before/after audits have shown that as many as 40% of antennas are installed more than five degrees off target.  Using this audit data, simulations are possible with RF network propagation software and any market final design project.  These results will prove that even when using conservative misalignment changes that induced network interference can be costly to carriers specifically for newer interference prone LTE technologies.  Focusing just on carrier spectrum capital investment this number can easily become surprisingly high when considering large nationwide RF spectrum investments.   The cost of ‘wasted’ spectrum due to interference does not, but could consider additional costs of ‘unused’ BTS/RAN infrastructure, unnecessary network performance troubleshooting efforts, less the credible output from RF propagation, ACP and SON tools , and more important, the effects of poor customer data experiences  -all caused by misaligned RF antennas.

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The Do’s & Don’ts of the Enterprise Small Cells Lifecycle

This Guest Post was written by Art King, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies at SpiderCloud Wireless

Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies

In our work with mobile operators to accelerate small cell systems inside medium to large enterprises, we have learned much over the last five years to create win-win formulas for enterprise IT and our mobile operator customers. It is hard-earned knowledge that only a seasoned executive team could have anticipated and managed by an experienced field team.

So, in the spirit of sharing our knowledge, here are “5 Small Cell System Do’s and Don’ts of Enterprise.”

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Indoor Mobile Locationing: Beyond Pick and Pay

This guest post was written by Ofer Talmor, VP Products, Saguna

Ofer Talmor, VP Products, Saguna

Ofer Talmor, VP Products, Saguna

With the high usage of mobile devices in almost every aspect of our lives, mobile retail revenue stats are hardly a surprise: In Q1 of 2014, retail revenue generated via a mobile device was up 35 percent over first quarter of last year, with mobile owning 13.7 per cent of total e-commerce orders in Q1 2013 compared to 18.5 percent during the first quarter of this year.

But while a lot of data is aggregated about online shopping habits, a big piece of the puzzle is still missing – how do you track brick and mortar customers to identify the optimal point of conversion in-store? How can you identify when a shopper walks in the store, and offer him the best retail experience?  Can the experience that can be amplified by mobile usage?

At the same time, the human need to ‘touch the merchandise’ is still a dominant one. So is the desire to get it immediately, rather than browse online, and wait Combining mobile and in-store engagement for retail success

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Why do you need a Diameter Routing Agent in a VoLTE deployment? (Part II)

This is Part II of Peter Nas’ Blog Entry: Other DRA added-value in VoLTE

There’s additional value to the fundamental session binding functionality of a DRA. A DRA can enable optimal call management ensuring higher quality-of-service VoLTE calls. For instance, think of all the different vendors’ equipment that is needed to exchange Diameter Gx and Rx signaling. One example is when the LTE PGW has a different Gx implementation than the PCRF. In turn that PCRF can have a different Diameter Rx implementation than the IMS’s P-CSCF node. Typically inside an operator’s network, there will be various vendors for LTE, PCRF and IMS core network elements. And this is the norm in roaming use cases where the visited LTE network is out of control (meaning a different vendor) than the home IMS network, where the P-CSCF (and other elements) will be involved.

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Why do you need a Diameter Routing Agent in a VoLTE deployment? (Part I)

Peter Nas, Senior Solution Architect, F5 Networks

Peter Nas, Senior Solution Architect, F5 Networks

This article was written by Peter Nas, Senior Solution Architect for the Traffix SDC, F5 Networks

Operators have begun to get more and more serious around deploying VoLTE (Voice over LTE) in their networks. Since the announcements of VoLTE services from some Korean and US operators, others, particularly in Asia, North America and EMEA, have launched or are about to launch VoLTE (see GSA announcement of 17th Sep 2014: 71 operators in 36 countries investing in VoLTE deployments, studies or trials, 10 operators commercially launched HD voice using VoLTE). More often than not, operators use a Diameter Routing Agent (DRA) to support correct routing and control of the Diameter signaling related to VoLTE.

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If You Can Scale Small Cells Inside, then Service IT: Small Cell Services at the Enterprise Edge

Ronny Haraldsvik, CMO/SVP, SpiderCloud Wireless

Ronny Haraldsvik, SVP/CMO, SpiderCloud Wireless

At the heart of SpiderCloud’s scalable 3G/4G small cell system is the Services Node (SCSN), a “local” control point for the small cell network deployed inside the enterprise over existing Ethernet. It’s also where the enterprise edge meets the mobile operators edge network. The small-cell system can provide cellular capacity and coverage to over 1.5 million sq.ft. of space and support for 10,000 voice and data subscribers.

Beyond coverage and capacity, after credibility has been established with the IT department, the Services Node is a strategic point of entry into the enterprise IT environment for mobile operators and business partners to service IT, and a potential great revenue opportunity.

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Diameter–SS7 IWF: Bridging the Signals between New and Old Worlds

Ohad Ramot, F5

Ohad Ramot, Principal Software Engineer, F5

F5’s Ohad Ramot explains the challenges of translating signals between a 4G network using Diameter signaling and 3G networks using legacy SS7.

It’s widely known that LTE (4G) networks are spreading rapidly and are being deployed all over the globe. However, while 4G networks are growing, 2G/3G networks still serve most of the subscribers as they have been doing successfully for the last decades, and it seems these legacy networks are here to stay for a while. This requires operators and roaming mediators (IPX) to face the challenge of maintaining and interacting with both network architectures in parallel.

4G and 2G/3G network architectures differ in many aspects. One of the major differences is the signals mechanism that enables network nodes to interact with each other for authentication, billing, subscriber profile provisioning and more. While 2G/3G signaling mechanism is based on SS7 protocol stack, 4G networks use the relatively modern Diameter protocol on top of TCP/SCTP/IP stacks. Although both signaling methods provide solution to the same set of problems, they stem from different architectures and design philosophies.

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Hyper-dense small cells – If they can work here, they can work anywhere!

Prakash Sangam Director, Technical Marketing, Qualcomm

This post is by Prakash Sangam Director, Technical Marketing, Qualcomm

On March 1st and 2nd 2014, the eyes and ears of NASCAR fans were on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race being held at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona (PIR). While fans were nervously biting their nails during the race and cheering ecstatically when their favorite driver pulled off a pass, we at Qualcomm joined them. Admittedly, we were not there only to see the spectacle of NASCAR. Phoenix International Raceway was the venue for the joint trial among Sprint, NASCAR and Qualcomm Technologies. The companies were stress-testing and validating the “hyper-dense small cells” concept and our “UltraSON” suite of features. And when the results were in, we were as ecstatic—perhaps more so than the fans of the winning car and driver.

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MWC Day Two – Innovations on Show

Cloudy with a Chance of Cost Savings

The second day of MWC proved to be another full-on day of hall walking and meetings, and innovation was on show aplenty.

That’s certainly true of Israeli VAS company CallUp. This small operation has just 25 employees but sells its products to operators all around the world, from LATAM to India. Its CEO Aron Roth explained to me how its CanVAS product can bring the value back for operators into services such as SMS and voicemail, which for those that are focussing on LTE are products that no longer really revenue generators,  but still have to be offered. The answer is the cloud. CanVAS offers these things via a cloud-based system, thus stripping out the high OPEX costs that carriers would otherwise face for these low revenue generating services. Interestingly Callup itself hosts these offerings on AWS – Amazon’s cloud services. So it’s a cloud service, built on top of a cloud service, which is kinda cool.

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Sprint looking to live up to its name with 1.3GHz TD-LTE demo

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Sprint has demoed speeds of over 1.3Gbps in tests with its infrastructure partner NSN

Despite its name, Sprint, the US carrier, was for the past couple of years, left in the slow lane for data as it saw its rivals Verizon Wirelesss, and AT&T streak ahead and launch LTE. However, in recent months it has gone through a large amount of network evolution, retiring its iDEN network, and acquiring Clearwire, giving it access to a large swathe of spectrum, enabling it to complete with the big guys.

Recently it announced Sprint Spark, which it dubs an ‘ultra-fast’ LTE service delivering speeds of 50-60Mbps. In a recent interview with the LTE World Series, Dr. John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture, of Sprint said it plans to do this using a bunch of LTE Advanced technologies, specifically carrier aggregation to make 40, 60 and 80MHz bandwidth pipes, and MIMO techniques.

It hasn’t happened quite yet though, and according to this test in early November 2013 from the Wall Street Times, Walt Mossberg, who performed LTE 20 speed tests in three locations, AT&T is the fastest overall network. However, it does vary greatly by region, and if you look at 2min 54 in the video on the page you’ll see that in Silicon Valley, the heartland of all things tech, Sprint easily wins with average speeds of over 20Mbps, nearly double of AT&T.

However, it’s not content with stopping there. As demonstrated in the video below it has conducted tests with its new partner NSN, where, in test conditions, it has achieved a heady 1.3Gbps on the downlink in a single sector, around 10 times the throughput of today’s commercial networks. This is using its TDD spectrum on 2.5GHz band. TD-LTE is of course particularly efficient use of spectrum and the high frequency enables the faster speeds.

As impressive as that sounds, it’s worth stepping back and observing that this is only slightly faster than the speeds that up until just a few years ago, the ITU officially designated at 4G. True 4G was originally only meant to be used for networks that could deliver 100Mbps on the move, and 1Gbps when stationary. Anything below that was really an enhancement of 3G, until the US networks starting marketing 4G as basically anything. Anyway, semantics aside, it’s impressive that LTE is moving forward at a rapid pace.

The video is presented by Steven Bye, Chief Technical Officer for Sprint. While Steven is a regular at Informa’s LTE events he isn’t at LTE North America, but the aforementioned John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture is appearing, and will be giving a keynote speech on Day One of the LTE North America 2013 conference, taking place on Thursday 21st November 2013.

Interview: General manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks: “We’ve had great resonance in the market, which increased visibility supporting our work.”

Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks

Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks, about the company’s win in the ‘Best LTE Core Network Element’ category.

Tell us more about your entry in the LTE Awards 2013.

F5’s Traffix Diameter Signaling Delivery Controller (SDC) enables operators to control and steer signalling in ways that optimise, monetise and secure an LTE network for maximum revenue generation. You can find the SDC in more field deployments than any other Diameter signalling solution. It is the market’s most mature product as our DRA was the first in the market to be deployed, in 2009. It’s a comprehensive Diameter signalling solution offering a DEA, DRA, IWF, Diameter Gateway all consolidated into one platform powered by an extensive central network management system that not just reports and displays network statistics, but is configured to prevent network problems.

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VoLTE – Why it’s Imperative for LTE

Kaushal Sarasia, Assistant Manager, Marketing for Aricent.

Kaushal Sarasia, Wireless marketing for Aricent.

This post is by Kaushal Sarasia, Assistant Manager, Marketing for Aricent.

While LTE has established itself as the technology of choice to cater to the ever increasing demand for bandwidth one of the key challenges it faces is voice.

Given that LTE is an all IP network, the challenge is to provide seamless continuity for voice and video calls while using packets. The complexity means that operators are choosing to provide voice services via circuit switching by falling back to their legacy networks. This method of Circuit Switch Fall Back (CSFB) however, is rapidly falling out of favour as operators now want to leverage the full benefit of LTE by providing high definition voice/video services over LTE.

VoLTE not only helps operators reduce cost by eliminating the need to maintain legacy networks but also enhances the customer experience by providing distinct advantages such as high definition voice quality, simultaneous voice and data usability for rich service experience and seamless connectivity. The highly portable and scalable core network of LTE is being extensively leveraged by governments and other agencies for deployments in niche areas such as public safety for disaster management; here VoLTE becomes absolutely crucial for enabling vital voice communication during life critical operations. Moreover, VoLTE can help define a single wireless core network for both data and voice thus allowing multimedia communication involving voice, video and data at the same time. This can be leveraged to provide exceptional customer experience and to share critical information during disaster management.

Implementation of VoLTE is a complex undertaking that requires leveraging the IMS network and implementing specific QoS to enable seamless carrying of data and high definition audio/video quality. Its introduction impacts network elements across the spectrum including User Equipment (UE) (IMS Client), RAN (eNodeB), Core (EPC) and IMS Servers. The standards for VoLTE are still evolving and coupled with the complexity of implementing it means that it provides a huge opportunity for equipment manufacturers to introduce differentiation in their VoLTE solution.

An optimal VoLTE solution delivers an enhanced customer experience by providing many distinct benefits such as seamless HD voice/video quality, while enabling operators to reduce infrastructure cost and complexity. It also enables LTE equipment manufacturers to target this highly lucrative market by offering highly differentiated products, thus providing multiple benefits to every stakeholder in the LTE space. VoLTE has thus become an imperative for the success of LTE.

Aricent will be exhibiting at the upcoming LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

The inaugural LTE Voice Summit, dedicated to telecoms voice issues, is taking place on October 1st-2nd at the Hilton Paddington, London. Click here NOW to download a flyer.

LTE Interworking: Is it really necessary?

This post is by Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

This post is by Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

In LTE there are many signaling interworking scenarios to consider. With more than one million Wi-Fi networks, over 1,000 2G networks, over 500 3G networks, over 400 cable networks, even more DSL networks, and 163 live LTE networks, the number of signaling interactions is simply enormous.

A spec called TS 29.305 covers interworking between Diameter and SS7/MAP, which would occur whenever an LTE and 3G/2G network need to interact.  Of course, interworking needs to happen between LTE networks as well, and there are many different Diameter variants are out there. Without universally-endorsed standards, it’s easy to either interpret or implement the spec a little differently.

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Diameter interactions also need to occur outside of 3GPP networks. Interactions with Wi-Fi will need to occur when an LTE-enabled tablet moves into a Wi-Fi area, and the billing and authentication switchover needs to occur seamlessly. When this happens, interworking between Diameter and Radius needs to occur and similar interactions could occur even with cable and DSL networks.

Service providers will need to address all these interactions by adopting solutions that normalise protocols and facilitate any-to-any communications until LTE becomes the dominant network architecture – which is still several years away.

The next Signaling Day, focusing entirely on signaling issues, will be taking place ahead of the LTE Asia conference, taking place at the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Big-Picture Thinking and Big Data: Growing LTE Revenue in the Face of Shrinking Margins

growing-lte-revenue-in-the-face-of-shrinking-margins

The financial landscape for communications service providers (CSPs) this year remains rocky. Profits are continuing to fall, with major players such as Telefonica, DTAG, and Vodafone reporting significant drops in revenue: the Vodafone group recently reported a full 90 per cent year-on-year drop. Margins are continually squeezed, competition from OTT players like Google and Apple is fierce, and CSPs must now build out next-generation LTE networks to meet the demand for mobile data services.

Operators are making inroads in cost reduction, but savings are not enough. It’s clear that current business models need to be transformed, focusing on new ways to deliver innovative services and drive revenues.

At The Now Factory, we’re seeing a trend around LTE encompassing both cost reduction and revenue generation. Operators are consolidating their network monitoring and CEM systems under one platform – Customer-Centric Network Monitoring to drive greater cost-efficiencies, while building analytics on top to extract greater value: finding that new LTE revenue.

The flood of rich data available to operators is a deep vein of potential profit for CSPs. The exploration and monetisation of this information is driving the most exciting innovations in the sector. Big Data can’t be ignored, and fortune favours the bold. Today, we work with a host of CSPs who use the power of our analytics platform to find new LTE revenue sources around:

• Machine to Machine (M2M) services

• More flexible pricing models

• Mobile advertising

• Market research

To learn more about how we can help CSPs profit from the migration to LTE, please contact the Now Factory

We will be at the upcoming LTE World Summit in Amsterdam from June 24-26 and would welcome an opportunity to meet with you if you will be attending.

LTE Means Rethinking Security in the All-IP World

This is a guest post by Frank Yue, technical marketing manager for the Service Provider vertical at F5 Networks.

This is a guest post by Frank Yue, technical marketing manager for the Service Provider vertical at F5 Networks.

As communications service providers (CSPs) continue to build and deploy 4G LTE networks, they are finding that they need to understand some critical concepts as they move from circuit switched 2G and 3G networks to all IP packet switched networks.  Of these, IP security rides high on that list of technologies to master. The Internet has become an open environment susceptible to malicious activity. If your assets are not secured, you are guaranteed to be attacked and compromised by one or more unscrupulous organisations. 

They may do it for financial gain, selling the stolen data to parties, as a paid service, for your competitors to disrupt your business, or even just for personal enjoyment because they found that they could compromise your infrastructure. We may not use resources such as the M61 Vulcan shown in the picture, it is important to develop and implement the proper security tools to protect the latest wireless networks.

Growth in the Data Plane

While many CSPs already have solutions in place to protect parts of the packet data network (PDN) infrastructure, they often do not understand how the implementation of a 4G LTE network architecture changes the security requirements. The S/Gi interface, or the part of the network connecting the mobile subscribers to the Internet will have a significant increase in data volumes as more LTE enabled mobile devices are used. In addition, with the increased speeds available, we expect to see 4G wireless technologies competing with fixed-line data services such as DSL and cable. This will change the type of content seen and the mobile CSP will need to develop enhanced policies to manage and secure these services.

f5_pic

Another concern is that LTE expects the mobile devices to be IPv6 enabled, while much of the PDN is still expected to be using IPv4 technologies for some time.  This requires the ability to translate IPv6 addresses to IPv4 addresses using a carrier-grade NAT (CGNAT) technology, while maintaining a proper security infrastructure. This includes the ability to protect the pool of IPv4 addresses being used in the CGNAT solution and all of the devices’ communications being translated.

Packets in the Control Plane

More significantly, the control plane of the LTE network will change from a circuit-switched network to an IP-based architecture.  Diameter, SIP and DNS are the primary protocols that will be used to manage the control plane as the CSPs start implementing voice over LTE (VoLTE).  Securing and managing this infrastructure will be critical to the services delivered to the subscribers and protecting their privacy.  The Home Subscriber Service (HSS) and Policy Charging and Rules Function (PCRF) depend on Diameter, an open standardised protocol used on IP networks, while the Call Session and Control Function (CSCF) systems and Application Servers (AS) within the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) utilise another public standardised communication technology called Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).

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Figure 1. The complexity of the IMS network architecture

It is important to note that third-party applications developed by independent people in addition to the subscribers and their LTE device will have direct access to the IMS network components through the SIP protocol. This means that potential malicious or poor programming will have the ability to directly affect and access the control plane of the LTE network and be able to disrupt it or obtain unauthorised access to private information such as subscriber profiles, unless proper security measures are put in place.

The CSPs need to understand the implications of migrating to an IP network infrastructure and how the packet-based network must be managed significantly differently from the legacy circuit-switched environment. Proper planning and testing is required to successfully build a robust and secure 4G LTE network. It is important to leverage the existing work done on IP networks over the past 20 years, utilise the knowledge of your colleagues and vendors. Apply the proper availability and security practices learned from these resources to design the next generation wireless networks.

To speak with F5 look out for them on the exhibition floor at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

F5 have been nominated in the Best LTE Core Network Element category at the LTE Awards 2013, taking place at the 25 June 2013, De Duif, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

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