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Moving from SS7 & Radius to Diameter

Diameter is coming, but probably not as quickly as analysts would have you believe. But even if you are not considering Diameter directly, migration in peer networks may have an impact on your network. It’s time to consider how to protect your network and ensure service continuity while partner networks migrate to EPC and LTE.

Today’s telecommunications infrastructure includes a diverse mix of protocols. Most of our customers are aware of the complexity of interconnecting an array of networks and elements and our role in helping them to achieve a co-ordinated, resilient network. Two common protocols play a hugely significant role in networking today – SS7 and Radius.

SS7, of course, is used for the co-ordination of both user session data (voice, video and so on) as well as interaction with key network elements, such as online charging systems, Intelligent Network entities (such as Service Switching Points and Specialised Resource Functions), while Radius is primarily used for AAA procedures (Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting). This means that an SS7 enabled softswitch might need to use SS7 CAMEL to connect to an online charging server for prepaid subscribers, while at the same time checking a user profile database using Radius.

However, as networks migrate towards LTE, the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and IMS, many of these functions will be replaced by a new, common protocol: Diameter. The same softswitch may instead need to be able to communicate with Diameter to deliver the same functions.

Diameter is a protocol of growing importance. It provides AAA capabilities as well as satisfying requirements for location and mobility in 3G, LTE, and IMS networks. It has become the most prominent signalling protocol in NGN networks and is expected to replace both SS7 signalling and Radius, which delivers much of this functionality today, just as SIP is increasingly becoming the predominant session control protocol.

Diameter provides a number of advantages over Radius – in particular, in terms of improving network reliability and resilience – which is clearly of fundamental importance if it is truly to replace SS7 connections. In a further post, we shall explore some of the differences, but the fact that concerns us for now is that much of today’s equipment will need to either migrate towards Diameter or else support interconnection with the new protocol.

There have been a number of forecasts regarding the proliferation of Diameter-enabled devices. While it’s clear that Diameter deployments are accelerating, primarily because of LTE network penetration, the general replacement of Radius and SS7 signalling is a massive task and will take many years. After all, it’s more than a decade since analysts forecast the death knell of SS7 and it’s still going strong.

Instead, what we expect is that network operators that are not migrating to IMS or LTE will increasingly need to interconnect with Diameter-enabled devices in other networks. We also expect that many solutions that are today enabled by SS7 and Radius will be declared end-of-life by their vendors. This means that operators that expect to see a more graceful transition to Diameter may be forced to consider network enhancements earlier than anticipated.

Squire Technologies is preparing to meet this challenge. We are investing in solutions that will prolong the life of existing solutions while helping transition to the next generation of networks. It will be essential to support Diameter / SS7 interworking, which will mean that existing SS7-enabled solution can connect to new solutions that support Diameter as they are brought online.

Our expertise will enable us to support operators through this transition and ensure service continuity, even when existing vendors pull the plug on their systems. The migration from Radius and SS7 to Diameter is going to take years. Even if Diameter isn’t in your current thoughts, it is in the thoughts of your peers. It may be that implementing it in your network is several years away – but you need to consider how migration plans from other operators may affect you.

If, for example, you connect to an HLR in another operator’s network, the chances are that this will migrate towards an HSS supporting Diameter within the next couple of years. When this happens, what options will be open to you? That’s what we are here to help with. We can help ensure that you can continue to connect to services and devices, even when they transition to new protocols beyond your control.

If you are concerned about how general migration to Diameter might affect you, why not give us a call to see how we can help?

Confronting End-of-Life for Softswitches

How to protect your investments and maintain SS7 and VoIP interconnections

What do you do if a key vendor announces ‘End of Life’ (EoL) for a critical part of your network infrastructure? It’s a common problem and operators have to plan for such eventualities. Even so, it can be problematic, particularly if the original vendor doesn’t have a replacement or upgrade plan.

Many operators that have invested in third party hardware and software to power their VoIP and NGN networks are becoming increasingly challenged by such end of life (EoL) announcements from industry vendors, most notably Cisco.

For example, Cisco has announced EoL and End of Support programmes for its PGW and ITP products, raising concerns for future operations and investment protection in live networks and leaving operators wondering how they will maintain their valuable interconnection points with VoIP, SS7 PSTN, NGN IP and IMS networks. What should operators do to help them navigate such challenges and avoid service disruptions or unnecessary additional investments?

Squire Technologies, signalling specialists to the telecoms industry, provides a range of future-proof options to help operators overcome such issues. We have reaffirmed our commitment to continue investment and support of our successful range of SS7 Signalling products, which includes the SVI Media Gateway Controller (MGC), SVI Signalling Gateway (SG) and SVI STP solutions.

With deployments in more than 100 countries around the world, Squire Technologies provides the answer to EoL challenges, delivering robust VoIP and SS7 interconnection and enabling a ready-made solution for operators that need to replace legacy products. But it’s not just platforms that are reaching the end of their lives that are threatened – other network elements that are controlled by EoL products as the Cisco PGW are also threatened.

We’ve taken care of this too, as our SVI MGC, SG and STP products can be deployed with third party platforms, ensuring service continuity and that operators can invest confidently in their networks. This means there is no need to replace other solutions that are in place, ensuring that investment is directed where it’s needed and no unnecessary expenses are incurred.

Seen as the perfect replacement for the Cisco PGW and ITP, the SVI SS7 Signalling range enables clients to interface their VoIP networks to SS7 PSTN, NGN IP and IMS networks, allowing the rapid launch of VoIP services while extending the life of legacy Media Gateway solutions from a range of 3rd Party providers.

Our strategy is built on the gradual evolution of our core product line, alongside the introduction of new solutions. This means that new features can be requested by customers and rapidly implemented to suit changing circumstances. Legacy vendors can rarely match this unrivalled flexibility, while EoL notifications mean that future enhancements are uncertain. Squire Technologies removes the uncertainty surrounding investments and provides a stable partnership for future growth.

If you are concerned about EoL programmes for critical network elements such as softswitches, signalling gateways and media gateway controllers, why not get in touch to see how we can help protect your network and provide a solution that helps future growth?

Missouri Telecom deploys Squire Technologies’ SVI MGC solution after a successful trial run to test interoperability, ensuring a no-risk investment

Local US operator Missouri Telecom deploys Squire Technologies’ SVI MGC (Media Gateway Controller) solution after successful completion of an initial trial. The low-risk approach ensured that Missouri maximised their Return-On-Investment and leveraged their existing Cisco AS5400 Universal Gateway to provide carrier-grade capabilities, such as CNAM, LNP and 800 services, to their customers.

“We needed a solution that could take us forward while being completely compatible with the rest of our infrastructure,” said Kevin Wormington, VP, Operations, of Missouri Telecom. “The option to trial the product before payment allowed us to reduce our risk to zero and ensures our Return-On-Investment. The SVI MGC from Squire Technologies offered us the resilience, feature set and proven interoperability that we wanted and which had been lacking. As a local service provider, we need to offer a flexible range of services to our customers and we now have a foundation that will enable us to do so.”

“It’s a win-win for the customer,” said Simon Dinnage, Squire Tech’s Business Development Director. “We are able to load this software-only product onto a client’s server or virtual environment and have them trial it in their network – we’ve been doing this for our clients for 10 years.”

Previously, Missouri had encountered issues with the lack of functionality their existing solution offered, which limited the range of services that could be offered to its customers. After approaching Squire Technologies, the US operator opted to deploy the signalling specialist’s SVI MGC solution, enabling Missouri to offer a number of robust, carrier-grade features – such as Caller ID Name (CNAM), Local Number Portability (LNP) and 800 services – to its customers.

Furthermore, because the SVI MGC is fully interoperable within a mixed network environment, Missouri was also able to deploy it with equipment from other vendors. The flexibility and proven interoperability of the SVI_MGC enables operators to support multi-vendor environments and choose best of breed solutions for their needs.

Squire Technologies is supporting Missouri during a phased migration that will result in a complete replacement of the existing solution while providing a fully redundant architecture for the future.

“We were delighted to have been chosen by Missouri Telecom,” commented Zacchary Couldrick, Sales Consultant at Squire Technologies. “The SVI MGC is a proven solution with deployments in over 50 countries and will certainly help Missouri Telecom’s business growth and extends our installed base in North America.”

The SVI MGC Media Gateway Controller enables clients to interface their VoIP networks to SS7 PSTN based telephone networks allowing the rapid launch of VoIP services while extending the life of legacy Media Gateway solutions.

The CAMEL’s hump. Or why part of a CAMEL is sometimes all you need…

Many operators take advantage of advanced SS7 signalling protocols such as CAMEL to deliver rich, enhanced services. CAMEL is an essential requirement in both legacy and NGN IMS networks to enable a range of charging, mobility and other services. There are a number of versions of CAMEL signalling, but they all have in common the fact that they specify operations, the combination of which results in the activation and delivery of a particular service.

However, CAMEL – and IN signalling solutions generally – have typically been costly, there has been a limited range of suppliers, and barriers to market entry for other vendors have been high. What’s more, the complexity of CAMEL solutions has been such that more functionality is delivered than is really required: in other words, operators have been forced to buy more than they really need in order to solve their challenges.

In reality, while there are many forms of CAMEL services, many of these are fundamentally simple, requiring only a limited number of operators – in many cases, as few as two. This means that operators are compelled to over-invest in solutions.

Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Squire Technologies has developed the capability to implement selected operations from CAMEL, IN and MAP protocols in its products for delivery over IP, IMS and legacy networks. In turn, this means that operators can simply leverage those features they need, rather than be forced to buy additional and costly solutions.

This provides a clear path for operators to enhance their networks and support advanced integration with CAMEL servers both in their own and in others networks. At Squire Technologies, we can add these capabilities to our solutions as and when required, providing a future-proof means to offer a richer range of services.

That’s why you don’t necessarily need a whole CAMEL to deliver the kind of functionality that you need. Sometimes, just the hump will do. Why not get in touch with us to find out more?

“It works just like a Swiss watch” – Leading Albanian VoIP operator Neofone delivers seamless performance and LNP services to customers with Squire Technologies’ Media Gateway Controller

Squire Technologies, signalling specialists to the telecoms industry, today shared the experience of its long time customer Neofone, a leading provider of voice and Internet services in Albania with its secure, robust SVI Media Gateway Controller (MGC) solution. Neofone deployed the SVI MGC to obtain a future-proof solution to its networking requirements. The SVI MGC provided a complete replacement for an existing Packet Gateway solution.

Neofone, which offers a range of transit, calling card and other VoIP services, enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality. “Originally deployed in 2010, the solution from Squire Technologies works like a Swiss Watch,” said Emil Andoni, CEO of Neofone. “Reliability is critical to us and our business is built on the service quality we offer. Thanks to Squire Technologies, we have been able to grow our brand and reputation, offering high quality services to all of our customers over a sustained period.”

“At Squire Technologies, we take great pride in how our systems perform in the long-term. We know we deliver superior reliability – and the latest news from Neofone provides a ringing endorsement,” commented Richard Warren, Sales Manager at Squire Technologies.

Because Neofone had an existing deployed base of media gateways, it was important to reuse as much of this infrastructure as possible. The SVI MGC is fully interoperable with both these and other network elements, with the result that Neofone could preserve its investments while adding superior performance, significantly reducing network CAPEX requirements.

In addition, the SVI MGC also offered much-needed enhanced functionality, including connectivity to a Local Number Portability (LNP) platform provided by a local operator, enabling Neofone to offer LNP services to its customers.

“We like to leverage the best of International standards and solutions,” added Emil Andoni. “With Squire Technologies, we have a partner that has given us Internationally renowned technical excellence, but also the stability and performance we need for our business – and the capabilities to help us offer new features and cater for our evolving requirements.”

Seen as the perfect replacement for the Cisco PGW, the SVI MGC Media Gateway Controller enables clients to interface their VoIP networks to SS7 PSTN based telephone networks allowing the rapid launch of VoIP services while extending the life of legacy Media Gateway solutions from a range of 3rd Party providers.

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