Communication service providers (CSP) are currently spending large amounts of money to deploy 4G and advanced networks. Historically CSP's have managed scaling and performance of networks by increasing bandwidth and spending more money on frequencies and hardware. However with 4G networks being all IP, CSP's now must take into account more elements in dealing with the scaling and performance of their networks. With all-IP networks scaling becomes more dependent upon designing and developing intelligent architectures. In order to obtain a quick return on this 4G investment, CSP’s must maintain competitiveness, provide a consistent quality of experience (QoE) for their subscribers, and deliver new services and applications.
Adding more bandwidth and hardware will always be an element of scaling and performance. However with all-IP networks, these are not the only elements to consider for successful scaling and performance. CSPs are forced to design and deploy IP infrastructure that is flexible and scalable to create the basic architecture for affordable scalability for all services and applications on the network. This infrastructure includes network services and subscriber and traffic management. Intelligence is the only way that a communication service provider can maintain competitiveness and reduce subscriber churn.
Network services such as AAA, IP allocation, domain name system (DNS), policy and signaling traffic are all key elements defining how traffic is managed for subscriber experience with the network optimization. As subscribers connect to the network, initial bandwidth and RF coverage are always very important. However in an all-IP network, once a subscriber has made the RF connection, the initial set up and connections to applications and services are key to establishing an acceptable and competitive QoE . AAA and IP allocations have to be managed to provide an intelligent assignment of authorizations and IP addresses based upon the tiers of service and/or subscriber definitions that the CSP designates. DNS can be used for locating applications and services both on the CSP's network and on the Internet. By using DNS, CSPs can determine the most available service to direct subscriber requests. Policy and signaling traffic is essential to the CSP's business model.
Due to the change in from circuit switch voice and messaging, signaling traffic will significantly increase with voice over LTE (VoLTE) and other IMS applications. Policy can be used to help enforce rules for fair usage and bandwidth and network services. However in order to be effective these policy systems also have to be considered in planning for increasing the scale and network performance.
One of the most significant changes in transition to an all IP network is the removal of circuit-switched voice channels. VoLTE is a standard that was created in order to provide voice services on LTE network. VoLTE is primarily based upon using the Internet multimedia subsystem IMS architecture to provide for subscriber registration, policy, billing, a comprehensive voice services (i.e. voice calls, roaming voice calls, voicemail, etc.). The key to initial success for voice over LTE is to provide, at a minimum, the same quality of experience that was delivered on 3G networks. With this challenge, initial scaling and performance of the networks will be essential to support new subscriber uptake and minimize churn. Changes in traffic patterns and flexibility in the scaling of network infrastructure is the only way to maintain and acceptable QoE.
As new network technology is developed, new devices are launched in the market and new applications and services are demanded by subscribers, CSPs are challenged to offer all of these while still maintaining a consistent user experience on legacy applications and technology. An intelligent and flexible IP infrastructure creates the core environment to enable the launching of competitive and new services and still maintains legacy applications. By deploying an intelligent and flexible IP infrastructure allows for intelligent scaling and help identify the need and timing of adding more bandwidth and hardware to the network.