Posts tagged ‘diameter’

WiFi Offload/Roaming Part 3: Diameter and LTE Interworking Is Crucial

Jim Machi, Dialogic

Jim Machi, vice president of product management for Dialogic

In my last blog I discussed the architectures needed to roam between WiFi and 3G/4G networks. In order to enable interoperability between the different architectures, a mediation and interworking platform is required to support the different scenarios in which RADIUS, Diameter and SS7 are used.

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As discussed in my prior blogs, RADIUS is critical for interworking with WiFi networks. Authentication and authorization of roaming subscribers is performed through RADIUS messages over an inter-operator interface between the visited network provider and home service provider. The interface can be implemented directly between two operators or through an intermediary, like an IPX or WRIX provider. The interworking functionality can be placed within either the visited or home operator’s networks, an IPX/WRIX provider or all three locations.

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Looking for gold under a standard DRA

Peter Nas F5 Traffix

Peter Nas, Senior Solution Architect, F5 Networks

People have often told me that I should share some of the content of my discussions with customers. So here goes: while speaking to a customer I begin to reflect on why DRAs (Diameter Routing Agents) usually interest core network signaling engineers; it’s because they are the ones who are building the Diameter signaling network and require a solution for optimal network scaling. Our conversation focuses on how much more efficient, smarter, flexible, cost effectively, and securely we can manage the signaling load for Diameter messages and other protocols.

Most people who are involved in mobile broadband or LTE are not that interested in Diameter signaling. At least I find this to be true when I address Diameter directly in pure technical language. However, when I speak about what great things we can do by using the information contained in every signaling message, you get a complete different conversation, and an interested audience. Typically, when discussing Diameter signaling the interest is in terms of what a DRA and DEA (Diameter Edge Agent) should be able to do according 3GPP and GSMA specifications. But as there are now more vendors claiming to have a DRA/DEA (although only a few are actually deployed) … customers are usually surprised at the possibilities of adding services, increasing security, and optimizing the network when deploying a DRA.

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Make the most out of your 4G network investment

This post is by Jorgen Trank, signaling expert and product manager, Tieto

Most mobile operators world-wide are currently expanding their networks to provide 4G services and coverage. This includes building up a whole new set of infrastructure network elements that uses Diameter signaling to exchange information. Diameter signaling is replacing the legacy SS7 signaling that was the blood and veins of the 2G/3G systems.

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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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Interview: Director of Engineering, Union Wireless (USA): “Right now we are still in a wait-and-see approach on VoLTE.”

Kevin M. Kleinsmith, Director of Engineering, Union Wireless (USA)

Kevin M. Kleinsmith, Director of Engineering, Union Wireless (USA)

Kevin M. Kleinsmith, Director of Engineering, Union Wireless (USA) is speaking on the subjects of VoLTE and backhaul at the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show we speak to him about the details of what is required to implement VoLTE on a network.

Is there any difference between the challenges of VoLTE roaming within the US, and roaming internationally?

There are several key differences in domestic roaming and international roaming. The biggest challenges come from the way the VoLTE call would be handled by a local breakout or would it have to go all the way back to the home network. Breaking it out as local as possible would be ideal, however, now we have to change the way the billing is currently handled. The GSMA-NA groups related to this, such as IREG and BARG, are trying to resolve the best practices, but until the industry agrees on a practice, a lot of smaller companies are simply going to have to rely on their major partners or third-party vendors on the proper solutions given their specific relationships.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Click here NOW to download a brochure for the event.

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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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LTE Network Interactions

Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

Jim Machi, VP Product Management at Dialogic.

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

According to a recently released GSMA Wireless Intelligence infographic, there are 163 live LTE networks today, and that figure is expected to grow to more than 400 live LTE networks by the end of 2017. However, there are still hundreds of 2G and 3G networks that these LTE networks will need to connect to, not to mention the million or so (depending on source) Wi-Fi networks.

The signaling interworking between Diameter, SS7 and Radius is an important issue that needs to be solved. It has become such a priority that a Diameter signaling controller market has emerged.

Recently Dialogic hosted a webinar in which I discussed this in more detail. Steve van Zanen from Broadforward joined me to discuss the need for this type of equipment and the use cases that drive demand for interworking solutions.

But signaling is not the only interactions that occur with the LTE networks.  There are also media interactions required because of more advanced voice and video codecs that are used on LTE networks that will require transcoding and all this traffic will contribute to congestion.

The webinar explores all three of these areas and solutions to allow the interactions to go smoother. Click here to learn more.

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.

 

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.

Diameter Signaling: Change Determines Survival

This post is by MK Chang, vice president, product marketing for Aicent.

This post is by MK Chang, vice president, product marketing for Aicent.

The promise of 4G LTE and its native IP packet based technology is quickly proving its value on the world telecom stage. The number of LTE network installations on a global level helps support this claim with over 400 operators in over 124 countries investing in LTE according to GSA and up to 175 networks already commercial. This is also apparent in the rising number of greenfield opportunities for data service providers helping drive growth with new services through innovative business models.

All these influence the momentum behind the explosive interest and growth of LTE networks, which in turns gives rise to the evolution of Diameter signaling and may eventually take over the critical importance of SS7 in the signaling world.

diameter_diagram

With the exponential growth of data, the mobile industry has been guardedly awaiting the impending data surge that is building from the increased adoption and expansion of data devices. The result, is the expectation for the Diameter signaling market to double this year (2013), with revenue from signaling controllers jumping to well over 900% from 2012 to 2011, according to Infonetics.

This push into Diameter signaling comes at a cost, and that cost is to the more outmoded and aging SS7 network, lessening its importance and creating a tremendous amount of turbulence in the traditional telecom wholesale world – where change determines survival.

So what are the impending factors that will impact SS7 and continue to drive the development and expansion of Diameter Signaling?

  • Improved Scalability and Management

Newer technologies, such as Diameter, are able to handle higher volumes (data) with the same or smaller physical footprint. The Diameter infrastructure simplifies network management through a singular centralised signaling architecture reducing costs (Opex) and the complexity of the core network, while allowing the network to grow incrementally to support an expanding base of data hungry mobile subscribers.

  • Long-Term Consumption

As subscriber adoption and penetration eventually levels off and starts to decline as a result of the rapid shift by global operators to LTE networks, 3G traffic will become relatively flat. This will have direct implications on operator demand for SS7 signaling services, which will gradually decelerate, equating to a decreased demand for SS7 supporting equipment.

  • VoLTE

Over the coming years, improved services, reduced capital, and operating expenses will drive operators to minimise their support for SS7 signaling at the core, as it is replaced with new and advanced services such as VoLTE, that benefit from Diameter’s ability to handle an all-IP network landscape. This transition will only quicken as IP to IP calling becomes more mainstream.

  • Competitive Landscape

The increasingly competitive telecom services market, drives carriers to focus more attention on subscriber retention by raising customer service levels and injecting new and updated services in order to build strong customer satisfaction, support, and retention (lowering churn), all while reducing costs. The injection of new services is an opportunity to offer differentiated services that increase customer spending, while improving customer satisfaction.

  • Role Of The Wholesaler

LTE roaming is predicated on the existence of an IPX. As Diameter signaling volume grows, operators may be increasingly encouraged to use the IPX as a direct bilateral method for services like inter-carrier voice as well as SS7 signaling. This might translate into a diminished role for the international carrier acting as a wholesale agent between carriers. Certainly, the overall signaling and voice market will be big enough to sustain both IPX and wholesale players, yet there is no doubt of the increasing pressure on these international wholesalers to change in order to survive. Consolidation of the wholesale international market may be an eventuality.

There is no question, the SS7 network infrastructure will continue to exist in the near term for several reasons. One being the investment costs associated with equipment and the other is supporting a legacy mobile market that despite quickly redirecting its attention to LTE (probably the fastest adoption of a new technology in mobile’s short history) will still need to support existing users while the industry transitions over the next 5 to 10 years. This is also the case for operators within countries that are just at the cusp of transitioning from 2G to 3G services and will maintain this model for some time. The future trend will continue to focus on 4G LTE networks supporting the dynamic growth of data centric devices.

To talk further with Aicent, head down to Pod 10 on the exhibition floor of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Aicent are also nominees for the Best LTE Roaming Product or Service at the LTE Awards 2013, taking place at the 25 June 2013, De Duif, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Interview: “VoLTE is set to play [an] important role within our LTE strategy”: Master Expert System Architect Network, Eplus-gruppe.

Dietmar KohnenmergenThe E-Plus Group is the third largest mobile network operator in Germany, with just over 20 per cent market share. Ahead of 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, we speak to Dietmar Kohnenmergen, Master Expert System Architect Network for E-Plus Gruppe about its preparation for launching LTE and the issues around diameter signaling.

What have been the major developments around LTE in your region this year?

For E-Plus Gruppe, the major developments have been an IP RAN rollout and the introduction of EPC and associated testing.

Do you feel the people still need to be educated as to what Diameter signaling is?

The experts are quite familiar with Diameter signalling issues, but the operational teams still need some education.

What are the key issues around Diameter that the industry needs to be aware of?

The primary issues are E-signalling load protection and adaptation to the various needs of the different Diameter flavours.

How can these key issues be solved?

From our perspective the introduction of a Diameter Router Agent is one of the most promising solutions for solving diameter issues.

What are the other technical challenges around LTE that you expect to face in the next 12 months?

The introduction of Circuit-Switched Fall Back (CSFB) with acceptable performance will be a major challenge for us. The other challenge will be the preparation of the BSS systems in time for our LTE launch.

Where are you on VoLTE and RCS? Are these important to your LTE strategy?

VoLTE is in preparation phase, whereas our plans around RCS have not been decided yet. VoLTE is set to play a more important role within our LTE strategy.

Dietmar Kohnenmergen will be giving a presentation on diameter signaling 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 flyer for the event.

Also put a date in your diary now for the inaugural LTE Voice Summit, taking place in London on the 23rd-24th October 2013. Click here NOW to download a flyer.

Supply and Demand in the Wireless World

This is a guest post by Frank Yue, Technical Marketing Manager for the Service Provider vertical at F5 Networks.  Mr. Yue has over 15 years of experience building large-scale networks and working with high performance application technologies including deep packet inspection, network security and application delivery.  He is based in North Carolina and is a scuba diving instructor in his spare time. 

What happens when you build a new product or service and everyone wants to be a part of it? When demand surpasses supply, bottlenecks and delays are created, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. It is common to see lines of people waiting to get their hands on the latest hot product. Often, the infrastructure needs to be rebuilt or changes made to people’s habits to relieve the demand. Extra lanes and bypasses are added to the highway systems to meet expected rush hour requirements. Companies attempt to build and deliver sufficient quantities of product to satisfy predicted demand on the day the book or new phone is released to the consumers.

With the availability of today’s mobile Internet and the speeds that consumers can upload and download data with today’s technologies, there is an ongoing explosion in the amount of data being consumed by mobile subscribers. Mobile Internet access is becoming a standard feature as smartphone usage continues to grow. The number of mobile devices accessing the Internet is expected to pass the number of PCs in 2013. Video has become the top application being downloaded by consumers, accounting for 40 per cent of all Internet traffic.

In the meantime, infrastructure technologies continue to improve the availability and speeds at which mobile subscribers use these data services. 4G LTE networks provide the ability to download data at speeds at up to 100Mbps. Managing bandwidth through quota controls is becoming much more common. Unlimited data plans are disappearing. Even when these unlimited plans are available, there are thresholds where bandwidth management techniques are being applied.

Communications Service Providers (CSP) understand that by providing intelligence in the network that can inspect, classify and take actions based on the characteristics of the traffic and the subscriber profile, they can more effectively manage the network availability. This is possible, while providing enhanced services to premium customers at the same time. This requires an intelligent, flexible, scalable framework that will be able to provide the services required today as well as any future services which may be added later.

One aspect that is possibly being forgotten is the astronomical growth of traffic in the control plane of the LTE network. 4G LTE networks are designed to be IP-based packet switched networks for all traffic including voice communications. As a result, there are more control plane signaling messages using the Diameter protocol being sent back and forth to manage application access as well as the voice over IP (VoIP) communications. As more LTE capable devices become available and voice over LTE (VoLTE) continues to be deployed, the danger of the Diameter signaling storm is potentially greater than the growth seen on the customer data network. It is important to ensure that a scalable, highly available infrastructure is also built for the control plane.  A Diameter Routing Agent (DRA) can be implemented to help mitigate this problem.

To manage all of these services and develop a flexible dynamic environment that provides the framework for the evolving wireless network, CSPs need to implement an infrastructure that has the intelligence to identify applications, subscribers and behavioral trends; scalability to handle the subscriber and data growth; and flexibility to meet today’s requirements in addition to the requirements of the future. The demand for more applications and bandwidth is here and it is up to the wireless providers to manage the available supply through intelligent design and execution.

What Will the Explosion of Devices Mean For Operators?

This post is by Houck Reed, vice president of product management and operations, Tekelec

There has been so much discussion about data traffic surges that mobile operators are missing the bigger picture of network signalling traffic surges; and what they mean for monetising services.

The Opportunity

Operators have to figure out how to open up their unique resources to those who covet them, such as Over-the-Top (OTT) players, mobile advertisers and content providers. Indeed, operators have the contextually rich subscriber data that others desire; not to mention the policy, QoS/SLA, billing relationships and management systems that can enrich OTT apps and services with differentiating capabilities, such as speed boosts during gaming or video downloads.

Currently, operators manage every part of the service delivery process – from devices, to networks, to subscriber databases. They also sit on a cache of contextual data about subscribers – preferences, devices, location, subscription and billing information and interests. All of this knowledge can generate revenue through personalised or location-based advertising (with the appropriate privacy provisions, of course) and zero-rated services paid for by third parties.

But in order to play the role of ‘enabler’ in a digital ecosystem, operators must have mitigation strategies and mechanisms to manage the tsunami of not only data traffic, but also signalling traffic that will imminently flood networks. LTE-enabled devices host sophisticated apps that constantly communicate with cell towers and various types of network equipment.

The Challenge

The type of monetisation and personalisation operators can enable will be challenged by the surges in data and signalling traffic generated by the sheer number of devices and the domino effect of mushrooming Machine to Machine (M2M) connections.

For example:

IDC predicts smartphone shipments will exceed 1.16 billion by 2016

  • Forrester Research forecasts that approximately 375 million tablets will be sold globally in 2016 (compared to around 56 million in 2011)
  • Berg Insights predicts the number of cellular M2M connections will reach 359 million by 2016

Following this rise in connections will come explosions in data and signalling traffic. Enough has been written about the migration to LTE and Wi-Fi offloads, and other mechanisms for dealing with data surges, but little is written about managing the number of Diameter messages supporting tens of millions of subscribers and up to hundreds of millions of devices – each of which can produce multiple concurrent sessions.

The Solution: A multi-pronged approach

Operators can use a combination of cloud, Diameter signalling and policy infrastructure to manage the surges of data and signalling traffic that will be triggered by new devices and their services.

By abstracting the complexity of managing specific platforms, devices or locations, the cloud enables operators to monetise anywhere, anytime applications without the management headaches. For that reason, mobile cloud traffic is expected to grow 28-fold between 2011 and 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 95 per cent, according to Cisco. Even more striking, cloud applications will drive 71 per cent of the total mobile data traffic by 2016 in Cisco’s forecast.

But cloud infrastructure has to be complemented by signalling infrastructure, as cloud computing can unleash huge volumes of signalling traffic. Sophisticated cloud services require authentication, authorisation, and accounting (AAA), policy, charging, QoS and mobility management – all of which Diameter directs.

It is absolutely essential that operators have a Diameter signalling layer (founded on a Diameter Signalling Router) in the network core for routing, traffic management, load balancing and protocol interworking – all necessary for accommodating the signalling that inevitably is triggered by new services.

They should also have a sophisticated Policy Server (PCRF) to define business rules for new service plans, not to mention subscriber data management (SDM) to personalise services, and Analytics to evolve services according to consumer and enterprise requirements.

This combination will help operators facilitate communication among service and network control elements, including policy servers, gateways, charging systems, mobility and session management, as well as subscriber databases – all of which communicate using the Diameter protocol.

If mobile operators embrace the full extent to which Diameter can generate revenue for 3G and LTE services, as well as manage explosions of data and signalling on their networks, they will be well on their way to successfully delivering and enabling personalised mobile data services capable of scaling with subscriber, application and data growth.

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