Building a better EPC for LTE networks

Bill Rubino/ACG Research
01 Jun 2010
The explosion of smart-phones and the data and videos that can be downloaded to them has wireless service providers wringing their hands and looking for alternatives to ease the pressure these smart mobile devices put on their wireless networks and infrastructure.
Long-term Evolution (LTE) with its higher bandwidth and all-IP infrastructure is being heralded as one of the solutions to this overload problem.
LTE addresses the bandwidth issue, but without high performing networks, the problem might be, to paraphrase Monty Python, "not dead yet." As carriers migrate from a 2.5/3G infrastructure to a 4G/LTE network infrastructure, the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) must be constructed with devices that can handle problems service providers currently face in their networks and accommodate tomorrow's bandwidth signaling requirements.
Here are the key elements that must be built into the Evolved Packet Core to address this explosion and future growth.
1. Signaling capabilities for now and later. Signaling traffic can account for more than 70% of a subscriber's traffic. And with devices like the Droid, which allows the user to ping-pong back and forth between e-mails and Twitter and to check the baseball scores, stock market quotes or news headlines -- data traffic and the signaling needed to support these applications adds up fast. Even an idle smart phone will generate signaling traffic. Think of this traffic growth in terms of the millions of users e-mailing, tweeting, surfing and downloading, coupled with the continued popularity of the smart phone, which means more users with more applications that will generate more signaling and data traffic. This, in turn, puts more pressure on service providers to evolve their networks. Evolved Packet Cores must not only have headroom built into the signaling capability to handle signaling demands made by today's devices but must plan for tomorrow's smart phone.


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