Evolved Packet Core: a primer

SearchTelecom.com writer
07 Mar 2011

The Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is a new, end-to-end packet core architecture that provides a converged voice and data networking framework to connect users to an LTE network.

EPC makes LTE more like traditional IP networks rather than previous generations of voice-centric wireless networks.

In a departure from 2G and 3G networks, which process and switch voice and data separately using TDM circuits for mobile backhaul, LTE's Evolved Packet Core unifies voice and data on an IP service architecture where voice is only one of many IP applications handled by the network.

The Evolved Packet Core is a "flatter" architecture with fewer elements than earlier wireless networks. Its three-layer architecture includes the radio network of LTE towers that create subscriber coverage, a control layer that manages handset registration and management, customer identification, and the packet core layer that links mobile users to fixed transport facilities.

Standards for EPC operation were specified by the 3GPP in early 2009. LTE/EPC has been deployed in only a few networks, and Tier 1 operators are in the LTE-migration planning stages.

Evolved Packet Core architecture was created to help wireless operators meet the hockey-stick growth of mobile broadband and multimedia services. If LTE is to meet subscriber needs, it must provide high-quality real-time and non-real-time mobile broadband access.

Operators are counting on LTE to help usher in business models that accommodate revenue sharing with third-party content and application providers, as well as new services and new applications.

Evolved Packet Core architecture continues to develop to enable wireless operators to offer mobile broadband services whose quality rivals that of wireline.

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