Operators' need for Diameter rising

Jason Emery
Tekelec
ABI Research predicts mobile data traffic to increase at a CAGR of 39% from 7,955 petabytes this year to 60,508 petabytes in 2016. To move and monetize all of this data, operators rely heavily on the Diameter protocol.
 
Not everyone knows that mobile data is creating a tremendous upsurge of Diameter signaling traffic in the process. The upsurge is driving operators to seek new solutions to efficiently route and manage Diameter in their 3G and 4G mobile data networks.
 
According to Current Analysis, Diameter is the chosen protocol for all of the chatter that goes on within IP networks, including communications between policy decision points, policy enforcements points, charging engines and subscriber data repositories. It also plays a role in the roaming-based communications between adjacent LTE networks and between LTE networks and 2G/3G networks.
 
Without a separate Diameter signaling infrastructure at the network core to facilitate signaling between network elements, endpoints such as online charging systems, mobility management entities (MMEs), policy control and charging rules functions and home subscriber servers (HSSs) would have to establish direct connections to one another. The connections would form an inefficient and difficult-to-manage mesh-like architecture.
 
As traffic levels grow, the lack of a signaling infrastructure would pose a number of challenges including scalability, congestion control, topology hiding, interoperability testing, subscriber-to-HSS mapping, and policy and charging session binding
 
On scalability, network endpoints would be burdened with all session-related tasks such as routing, traffic management, redundancy and service implementation. For example, adding new resources -- such as MMEs, call session control functions, packet data gateways and front-end applications for the HSS -- in an LTE or IMS network complicates network architecture in the evolved packet core. Each Diameter-based element requires a direct connection with one another, creating a mesh network that requires configuration and routing updates each and every time the operator adds a new network element.
 
With congestion control, the Diameter protocol lacks standardized methodologies for handling element congestion, leaving service provides at the mercy of each network element’s unique settings and capabilities.
 

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