Why an Empty Glass is like a Key Mobile Service Provider Technology

"Speedy Gonzales (1955 short)" by Source (WP:NFCC#4)

#MWC15 I was at a restaurant with some colleagues after the day of Mobile World Congress events today in Barcelona. Unfortunately, all the Spanish I learned was from the Warner Bros Speedy Gonzales cartoons. The people of Barcelona are great and most of them have a superb command of the English language.

While we were ordering and eating our tapas which we selected off of the menu of options, one of our servers came by to refill our water glasses. I took this opportunity to ask the server for a separate empty glass so I could take some medicine I needed to mix with the water. The server looked at me with a puzzled look and I tried to explain again.

‘Please bring a cup. Empty,” I said as I used hand gestures to simulate an empty glass with the one he had just filled. Again, he gave me a look that signified he did not understand.

“Cup. Empty,” I stated once again. He nodded this time and walked off.

A minute later he was back with no cup, but our waiter was with him. The waiter said, “I am sorry. He does not understand you. What do you need?”

“An empty cup, please.” I held up the medicine packet to show him why I needed it.

“Ah. No problem. One moment.” And off they went as the waiter explained to the young gentleman what I needed. Finally, the server arrived with my empty glass.

This brings up one of the issues that mobile service providers have that we sometimes gloss over or sweep under the table knowing it is being resolved in the future. The LTE networks need translation services like my waiter provided. Not for English or Spanish, but to switch the conversation from IPv6 to IPv4 and back again. The problem is that LTE networks are architected to use IPv6 addresses using 128 bits of IP address space while the Internet is still mostly IPv4, using 32 bits for each IP address. In addition, many service provider networks are not fully IPv6 either and they need this IP translation service to support the communications through their own infrastructure.

Most LTE capable phones are designed to support IPv6. The Internet of Things, when it blows up to 50 billion devices by 2020 will have things with IPv6 addresses. This is necessary because there are not enough IPv4 addresses to support all of these devices. A carrier grade network address translation (CGNAT) solution is needed to provide IP address translation capabilities within the network.

CGNAT may not have the buzz of IoT, nor does it have the public momentum of NFV, but it is still an essential technology to incorporate until the service provider networks and Internet fully support IPv6 addresses. CGNAT is deployed in most service provider networks to some extent, but it functionality and performance needs to be expanded to support this surge of new devices connecting to the LTE networks.

A complimentary technology that I would be remiss to omit when talking about CGNAT is DNS64 services. DNS64 is the mapping of DNS addresses in IPv4 format to IP addresses in IPv6 format. This is critical because DNS is all about the mapping of names, or fully qualified domain names (FQDNs) to IP addresses which will be either IPv4 or IPv6.

Service providers need to keep the CGNAT technologies in mind as they continue to build and expand their LTE networks, especially with the popularity of IoT. In my instance, I was lucky that I had my waiter to provide translation services between Spanish and English. The long term solution is for the server and/or me to learn each other’s respective languages. Only then will the waiter not be needed to always be around so we can have a conversation. In the service provider’s network the CGNAT solution (with DNS64) will always be needed until all of the devices and the Internet support a common a language, IPv6.

Published Mar 05, 2015
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