Diameter Dilemma for Competitive Carriers

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27 Οκτ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 1 μήνα)

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Diameter Dilemma for Competitive Carriers


By: Anjan Ghosal,
President and CEO
,
Diametriq



Competitive carriers have a dilemma managing their
Diameter
s
ignaling


the signaling system between
all
LTE core network
elements
.
One possible option is

to
purchase the

D
iame
ter routing and
management
service
from
an
IPX provider

as a hosted solution. With low traffic volumes
this may seem
like a very sensible solution and offset

the capital investment
required to install

an in
-
house Diameter
Signaling Contro
ller (DSC) which combine
s

the functions of the
Routing Agent (DRA)/ Diameter Edge
Agent (DEA).
With this goal, many
IPX providers have
invested in building out

D
iameter routing
capabilities
in

their network. Some of the services being offered by the IPX ve
ndors include connectivity
to their roaming partners, topology hiding,
D
iameter protocol conversion and interworking between 3G
and 4G networks.


While it makes a lot of sense for the operators to get
selective

D
iameter services from

their IPX partner,
us
ing them for
ALL

their
D
iameter traffic management may be counter
-
productive.

Typically the
D
iameter router in the
IPX network

i
s located remotely which implies

that all
D
iameter signaling will
have to be back hauled to an external location for processing

and routing.
This
can

have a number of
negative
implications as listed below.


The f
irst

requirement is to establish

connectivity
from each of the
operator’s
network elements (P
-
Gateway, HSS, MME, PCRF, S
-
Gateway) to the
remote Diameter router

in the
IPX
network
. To maintain
integrity of the signaling data as it
traverses

to the remote destination it is necessary to establish a
secure connecti
on

which often means
implementi
ng
an
IPsec tunnel

from
each individual element to the
external DSC
.
This can be a
m
anagement
nightmare and defeat the purpose of ‘topology hiding’. Any
modifications to the operator

s network will require close coordination
with the IPX provider creating an
ongoing challenge.


Second,
there is increasin
g interest among operators to estab
lish

peering and ‘local breakout’
thus

bypassing their
IPX network
.
While there are
still
a number of issues around QoS that have to be
addressed over the long run
,

peering
will be a reality.
Without an in
-
premise
D
iameter routing
mechanism the operator do
es not have the option of ‘local breakout’ of their signaling traffic and will
have to pass all the traffic to the IPX provider’s network.


T
he t
hird
point to consider is internal network protocol incompatibility.
Often networks are multi
-
vendor and Diame
ter, being a reasonably new protocol
,

comes

in multiple versions (R8, R10 or

R11) and
flavors (Ericsson, NSN etc.). Hence heterogeneous networks or
even

partial network upgrades
in one
-
vendor networks

can be highly disruptive when it comes to equipment int
eroperability. With an in
-
network
D
iameter management capability, operators can resolve any protocol mismatches
with

this
device.


Fourth, while we focus on
D
iameter routing and traffic management
,

we tend to forget about the
wealth of information that is

carried by this messaging protocol. Attributes like device type (iPhone,
Samsung Galaxy
,

etc.), access method (
Wi
-
Fi
, 3G, 4G) and location information of the terminal is
included in these messages. Hence the operator has the option to ‘data mine’ these in
formation
elements either to implement differentiating applications (
e.g.

r
oamer steering, churn management
,

etc.) or simply to learn more about the usage patterns of their subscriber base.
Without visibility to their
signaling traffic,

the operator will m
iss out on a great opportunity to monetize this data.


Finally, as the operator

s network grows there will be needs for load balancing within their
network;
again something
that
can be better handled by an
in
-
network load balancing element.


F
or multiple

reasons

as enumerated above,

it may be beneficial for the operator to
consider

an in
-
network Dia
meter Signaling Controller which incorporate
s

selected DRA

and

DEA

functionality.
Diametriq’s
Diameter Routing Engine


(DRE) does just that. Built on
an
off
-
th
e
-
shelf hardware platform
,

t
he DRE can be cost effectively scaled down to as low as 5 TPS.
Its

flexible routing engine allows
operators to define routing rules to enable local breakout. The Application Enablement
module enables
operators
to
harvest and ma
nipulate the Diameter message stream and create

differentiated services.


However
,

the
PRIMARY

practical
impediments to

the competitive carriers to embrace an in
-
network
solution for
D
iameter routing has been the capital cost of the equipment and the comp
lexity of ongoing
management of the solution. Diametriq has devised a program to specifically
address these issues for
the CCA members. With this program,

the operator pays a small installation fee
followed by

a very
reasonable monthly fee based on the siz
e of their network. This allows the operators to keep initial costs
at a minimum.
In addition, we have partnered with AbhraNet, a leading
-
edge managed service provider,
to provide the DRA/DEA platform as a hosted service. This cloud based service is availa
ble in multiple
configurations, provides the operators the best of both worlds
-

the ability to derive the advantages of
an in
-
network Diameter Signaling Controller without the costs and management headaches associated
with it.