Lost in Translation at BBWF
#BBWF I am waiting in the Philadelphia airport for the last of three flights today. I am on my way to Amsterdam for Broadband World Forum 2012. It is not often that I have to take three flights to reach my destination. The last time I made such a drawn-out, segmented trip was many years ago, and then my objective was to have enough flights to maintain my priority airline status. However, this time, I have no choice. My flight paths are set because I have to make an overseas flight to Europe. I feel lucky that I am able to make this trip using a single airline so I do not have to worry about a checked bag getting lost or misdirected as it is transferred from one carrier’s handling system to another. A ticket that utilizes multiple carriers can cause issues since the data in one system may not be properly reflected in the other airline’s system such as a delayed flight that alters my connections and flight schedule.
The communications service providers (CSP) deal with these problems of data transfer every second. Their systems are made of different technologies deployed with different vendors. Even though there are standards for protocols and architectures, vendors always add features and make small changes to make the system ‘better’ according to their perspective. In addition, these standards are constantly in flux. New versions are being released at an ever increasing pace. If a vendor does not provide timely updates and if these are not implemented by the CSP, features will break as components no longer will be able to understand each other. There are many protocols used for signaling messages in the control plane to manage the user communications across the CSP network and the Internet. Diameter, AAA, LDAP, RADIUS, HTTP/SOAP, SS7 and SIP are just some of the protocols developed and used to manage subscriber identity, authorization and messaging control in the network.
Star Trek to the Rescue?
Wouldn’t it be nice if one could insert a solution in the communications streams of all signaling messages? Not only can relevant information be translated between the different protocols, as the protocols are updated, this universal translator is able to make necessary changes to the communications to maintain the necessary standards support and provide a mechanism for backwards compatibility to legacy systems both in the core network and IT side of an operator’s network
As mobile networks migrate to LTE and, more specifically, voice over LTE (VoLTE), the compatibility between different voice over IP (VoIP) solutions is going to become even more critical. Fixed line service providers that are using VoIP technologies to deliver voice services to the subscribers and mobile providers that are now starting to deliver VoLTE services will want to interoperate without the need for having to access legacy infrastructure.
The world is becoming more interconnected and it is becoming critical that solutions are able to communicate with each other using a common language or through a system that can act as a mediator between these solutions. Speaking of which, the airline is communicating with me and they are saying that it is time to board my plane. I’ll see you at the show.