Signaling Day at the LTE World Summit show in Amsterdam primarily focuses on the Diameter signaling in the service provider network. There were a lot of talks from vendors and wireless carriers concerning the role of Diameter in the network as new technologies and architectures are implemented. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from today.
LTE Roaming – As more LTE networks go live every week, the service providers are looking for effective ways to implement LTE roaming solutions for LTE-LTE connectivity as well as LTE-2G/3G connectivity with interworking function (IWF). Roaming is a significant portion of a service provider’s revenue and the establishment of roaming functionality and agreements is critical to their success
Carrier grade signaling infrastructure – While several presenters discussed the need for carrier grade reliability with their Diameter solutions, it remains to be seen if the signaling IP infrastructure has the ability to support the standard 99.999% uptime that telcos have traditionally expected. Active-standby models are not enough to deliver the required uptime and the evolution towards virtualized (see below) infrastructure using common off-the-shelf hardware could make it even harder to deliver the necessary availability.
Virtualization and NFV – Everyone is looking to support virtualization technologies, specifically NFV. They believe that it is necessary to deliver and implement virtualized solutions to deliver the agility and elasticity that these architectures promise. Virtualization offers the benefit of agility and elasticity that may offer a solution to deliver a flexible and scalable Diameter signaling solution with on demand resourcing. However…
Orchestration and analytics – To maximize the benefits of a virtualized architecture, everyone is stating that orchestration of the disparate signaling elements along with the analytics to automate the implementation for service provider policies. But, no one has come forward to offer an orchestration solution and the analytics to enable the solution to be effective. In fact, one customer states that they believe that a mature management and orchestration solution is years away.
VoLTE – Now that LTE networks are live, service providers are looking to enable VoLTE services to leverage their new IMS infrastructures. This will give them the ability to offer HD voice services as well as decommission their legacy circuit-switched networks over time.
Policy and billing in a VoLTE world – It remains to be seen how QoS will be configured and applied to both the control plane signaling for VoLTE calls as well as the bearer channel carrying the subscriber data. Also, there are a lot of questions as to how VoLTE will be managed and billed. Will the service provider implement a policy where the dedicated bearer channel is billed per minute? Will the service provider bill different rates for voice calls versus video calls? Will the bitrate of the video stream affect this?
Overall, this was a good opportunity to listen to the presentations and see how the solutions and issues have evolved over time since last year’s LTE World Summit event. Everyone is moving forward as they have implemented core standardized Diameter solutions and are looking for ways to enhance their wireless service delivery though more advanced scenarios and architectures. I look forward to the continuation of this event over the next couple days to hear about the developments within the core service provider network.