Checklist for making the shift to LTE

Jason Emery
Daily News

Rolling out LTE networks is not enough to accommodate the surging demand for bandwidth. Service providers need LTE solutions that can scale to handle millions of devices and subscriber sessions, as well as provide end-to-end visibility into the network.

Such solutions also must enable service providers to manage network resources, reduce operating expenditures, and create new revenue streams by monetizing the data traversing their networks. Equally important, such solutions must improve the subscriber experience on the network.

Mobile networks will continue to be a mix of 2G, 3G and 4G technologies for years to come. Consequently, service providers need an LTE build-out strategy that makes possible the delivery of new high-bandwidth services while also paving a smooth migration path for non-LTE subscribers.

Without a separate diameter signaling infrastructure at the network core to support signaling between network elements, endpoints such as mobility management entities and home subscriber servers must use direct or point-to-point signaling connections to each other.

In the resulting mesh-like network architecture, network endpoints must handle all session-related tasks such as routing, traffic management, redundancy, security and service implementation. Implementing an IMS or LTE network without a signaling framework may suffice initially, but as traffic levels grow, the lack of a capable signaling infrastructure creates a chaotic mesh.

Policy charging and rules function (PCRF) binding is yet another challenge. When multiple PCRFs are required in the network, there is no way to ensure that the same PCRF processes all messages associated with a given user’s session. By contrast, a centralized signaling architecture addresses issues such as connection management, fault handling and interoperability.

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