Tag: LTE

Cablenet selects Squire Technologies to consolidate its Fixed and Mobile voice network

Cyprus based quad-play operator Cablenet selects Squire Technologies’ virtualised Session and Media controllers to consolidate their Fixed and Mobile voice network.

 “Cablenet has always leveraged leading edge technology to support innovation, seamless service delivery and enable rapid network growth. By selecting Squire Technologies products we continue this trend. Not only will we be able to leverage the benefits of a virtual environment but also the benefits of an integrated solution from a single vendor.” – Panayiotis Kouloumbrides, Voice Network Manager, Cablenet.

Initially Cablenet was looking to replace its end-of-life Cisco PGW product but this soon widened to incorporate its incumbent Session Border Controllers. Squire Technologies innovative controller architecture allows media to be easily distributed both in legacy and IP networks. In a virtualised SIP network this can be further enhanced to provide automated load balancing, elasticty and failover.  

“Cablenet runs a high-end, forward thinking telecoms network. We understood that in the first instance Cablenet needed to migrate its existing products to a fully supported product set with a committed roadmap. Once the core services have been migrated we can then work with Cablenet to take advantage of our technology to optimise and innovate. We very much look forward to our continued partnership with Cablenet.” – Mike Peck, Global Sales Manager, Squire Technologies.

About Cablenet

Founded in 2003, Cablenet is the only independent alternative telecommunications provider in Cyprus and has grown rapidly to become a leading quad-play provider of broadband, television, fixed and mobile telephony services in the island. Cablenet continues to pioneer by virtue of its advanced technological infrastructure, its well-trained staff and the introduction of innovative applications of modern technology into the Cyprus market. 

About Squire Technologies Ltd

Operating since 2001, Squire Technologies Ltd provides product solutions and expertise in LTE, VoLTE, VoIP and SS7 markets to Fixed and Mobile operators, MVNO’s, Equipment Vendors, Integrators and Solution Providers in 100+ countries.

How a Diameter Routing Agent Works

A Diameter Routing Agent sits at the heart of a Diameter network. It provides scalable, centralised routing of Diameter messages in a multi-vendor, multi-node environment within a service providers IMS and LTE core.

We’ve produced a short video to provide an overview of how the DRA works…

The Diameter Routing Agent is the central routing point in any Diameter network providing flexible routing and message manipulation to insure inter-op between multiple devices and device vendors. At the same time it prevents overload and congestion of diameter traffic through sophisticated load balancing and routing algorithms whilst delivering graceful scaling to match network demand.

Find out more about Squire Technologie’s Diameter Signalling Products here.

IMS is a Success – What’s next?

Since its inception in 1999 the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) has been the underlying network architecture for 4G rollout worldwide. Successfully standardising the delivery of IP telco networks by splitting the control layer from the network and application layer we look at what the drivers will be for IMS networks in the next 5 years, and what impact SDN, network slicing and 5G will have.

As a vendor back in 2007 we hired a consultant to give us the low down on the IP Multimedia System (IMS). “It is going to standardise and simplify the delivery of IP telco networks”, said the consultant. “It will split the control layer from the network and application layer and revolutionise the speed at which networks will be able to rollout services.”

He then proceeded to present us with a variant of the IMS architecture:

After the laughter subsided at the comments surrounding its simplicity of design we studied in earnest where we would fit into this new model. Fast-forward to the present day and IMS has as a network architecture been a success. It has been responsible for controlling EPC networks and hence the rise of LTE.

Subsequently it is delivering VoLTE and will arguably, in my opinion, provide the backbone for 5G voice signalling. I think a lot of network architects would argue strongly that there’s nothing “rapid” about the rollout of an IMS network or any subsequent services, however I think they would stand shoulder to shoulder with me regarding the elegance and longevity of the design. So whats’ next for IMS architecture and what are today’s drivers?

 

Private-LTE networks

Providing localised, dedicated wireless networks, or EPC in a box solutions are primarily being designed and deployed with machine communications and IoT as the primary user.

Ocado the online grocer uses its own Private-LTE network in the UK to manage its state of the art robot picking and packing facility. Enel Group, a major Italian power generator uses their Private-LTE network to support machine automation, workplace management and plant safety, while mining giant Rio Tinto have deployed a network to serve their Pilbara iron ore mine in Western Australia to deliver a variety of safety and production critical systems, all part of Rio-Tinto’s long term plan to deliver autonomous mining platforms.

The benefits of these Private-LTE networks are easy to validate, your own private wireless networks enables you to configure exactly what your business requires, be that high volume, security, low latency etc.

Access to radio spectrum is obviously vital, and in the US they’re looking to open up the 3.5Ghz band, currently used by Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS), on a lightly licensed, shared access basis. Globally the 5Ghz unlicensed band with the MulteFire standard is being touted as the way forward. The alternative is to negotiate with mobile operators to lease/share their spectrum, albeit anyone looking to strike a commercial deal will need deep pockets – narrowing the market to the RioTinto’s of this world. Couple this with the promise of network slicing, and 5G enabling operators to offer dedicated, private wireless networks tuned to meet requirements will further dampen the potential market size.

Having said that with market estimates of $2.5 billion spend in 2018, and CAGR of approximately 30% to 2021, delivering a $5 Billion market (source PRNewswire) its still a strong proposition, with an already healthy eco-system assembled to take advantage.

 

VoLTE

Cometh the hour cometh the technology. The IMS architecture had delivery of voice services built in from the very start, and now with LTE well established we’re beginning to see the rollout of VoLTE services increase.

The real business drivers for VoLTE have finally arrived with cost savings to be made in radio bandwidth utilisation for voice calls delivered over 4G instead of 3G now attractive enough to justify VoLTE rollout. Couple this with ageing 3G equipment and pending vendor end-of-life notices, and it’s easy to see why operators are rolling out programs to consolidate their voice networks.

As a platform
To quote a recent discussion with a Swisscom engineer – “with VoLTE there is no single killer-app, but it does allows us to rollout new features and improve subscriber stickiness”

The IMS architecture splitting call control from the application layer enables VoLTE as a platform, and provides plenty of scope for innovative services. The VoLTE feature list doesn’t just stop at HD-Voice, we have seen commercial success stories with multi device support providing seamless connections across mobile, laptop, tablet, TV and Echo. Multiple Virtual Numbers allowing subscribers to create multiple profiles, and more recently China Mobile offering Video Ring Back Tones.

 

Network Evolution 4G to 5G

5G rollout for operators is in the first instance going to be more 4G evolution than 5G revolution. From the radio side 3GPP detail that 5G support will initially be provided through LTE-A (Advanced) and LTE-Pro technologies. With the move to the NR (New Radio) specifications Vo5G will be rolled out as a combination of VoNR + VoLTE. This will further enable operators to consolidate their voice networks whilst reducing the total cost of ownership and guarantee service continuity whilst they upgrade their subscribers.

But as noble a cause as consolidation of existing voice networks is, is this all that IMS has to offer?

 

 

 

 

Architecture Evolution – Network Slicing and 5G

The IMS architecture is able to embrace some of the fundamental shifts in network design coming down the line with 5G.

The latest NFV/SDN buzzword is ‘network slicing’. It will allow operators to instantiate different virtual networks delivering specific functionality and services from the same common network infrastructure. This will allow 5G networks to deliver dedicated network slices of Ultra-reliable Low-latency Communications (uRLLC) and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).

To facilitate this 3GPP Release 14 proposed Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS). At a recent industry event I watched as architects from two of the largest mobile operators in Europe discussed implementing this design in their networks. It felt like a surreal pick and mix as they debated which functions would sit in the Control Plane, User Plane and the Access Network.

The split between the control and media plane will not only support the 5G network types mMTC and uRLLC but allow the development of an enhanced media plane that can be brought online in tandem with existing services to support heavy media applications like Virtual and Augmented Reality.

 

The Future

As we can see IMS is alive and well – delivering genuine benefits and fostering 3G to 4G to 5G evolution. But extending our horizon further, what do we see?

First off, 5G is not a WAN environment – the physics of the technology are such that 5G radio is only delivered over short distances. Large mast single cell sites covering kilometers of geography are the domain of 4G network technology, whereas 5G coverage will require many more small cell deployments, meaning yet more network components.

The forecasted explosion in IoT and increase in connected devices comes at a cost. SDN environments with their hetnets and network slices used to handle IoT traffic and confront security concerns are adding yet another layer of complexity. Will the IMS architecture continue to be able to cope?

Heretical voices at a recent industry conference argued that this type of network is more suited to the world of IP and internet providers. They have already virtualised their networks, don’t worry about huge numbers of devices, they have IPv6 and support for massive mesh networks.

5G rollout will be far from ubiquitous and will for the foreseeable future centre around “smart cities”, large commercial and government providers. These networks will no longer be the single preserve of the operators. If IP vendors join forces with operators will they usher in a new architecture?

Telco diehards will obviously seek to redress the balance by pointing out that the logical separation of the IMS architecture coupled with decades of experience in successfully authorizing, authenticating and accounting for millions of connected devices delivering different services across multiple networks grant the upper-hand!

From whatever position you stand one thing is for sure – these are interesting times for IMS.

 

Roaming In The South Pacific

Vodafone French Polynesia deploy Squire Technologies’ STP to solve roaming interconnect challenges.

Vodafone French Polynesia was launched in the beautiful South Pacific islands on the 17th June 2013. As part of the deployment, the Polynesian network was understandably looking to deliver international roaming, but hit an interconnect problem with one of their onward carriers. As with all network rollout problems there were a number of potential solutions. Naturally, Vodafone FP were looking to fix this problem as quickly as possible, but they also wanted a product solution with the functionality to be extended in the future, as and when their service evolved.

“It was refreshing to work with a team that were able to rapidly assimilate our requirements and advise on a deployment program that solved our immediate and longer term requirements.”
Paul Desvignes
Mobile Core Network Engineer, Vodafone French Polynesia

As speed was of the essence Squire Technologies were able to deliver a virtualised solution while Vodafone FP supplied the tin. Working remotely, Squire Technologies commissioning teams installed and configured the gateway product alongside Vodafone FP network engineers. In early 2014, as planned at the outset, Vodafone FP decided to purchase an upgrade license that transformed their gateway product into a fully-fledged Signal Transfer Point (STP). This provided Vodafone FP a future-proof solution that they still use today to deliver their international roaming service.

Of course time does not stand still and network technologies continue to evolve at a furious pace with the rollout of next generation LTE, VoLTE and VoIP in particular. Squire Technologies products have evolved alongside these changes whilst keeping the same commitment to problem solving and delivery.

“We are proud to be working alongside this innovative carrier discussing and proposing next generation Diameter, 4G Roaming and VoIP solutions. We wish Vodafone French Polynesia every success for the future.”
Sanjeev Verma
CEO, Squire Technologies Ltd

EU Roaming Revenue Gone. What Next For Operators?

From 15th June the EU announced that roaming charges no longer apply across the European Union. Whilst abroad on business or holiday you will be charged the same as you would in your home network.

What does this mean for mobile operators across the EU? Quite simply, a large loss of revenue.

Having talked to clients in Eastern Europe, this will hit really hard as the margins in their home networks are already wafer thin and roaming charges are a critical source of revenue. Operators have argued that this will reduce investment in their networks, having a detrimental effect on subscribers in the long term. Naturally they would say this as it’s going to affect their bottom line, and who wants to take a hit on their balance sheet due to changes in legislation? There are some glimmers of hope for operators as there is a “Fair Use Limit” policy for data consumed while roaming. If the pre-agreed fair usage is exceeded, operators can charge.

Quite how effective EU regulators will be in policing and enforcing these changes remains to be seen, but operators are going to have to adapt. From a technical point of view, what are the options for operators? In other markets we have seen nefarious practises adopted whereby operators configure or deploy GMSC/MSCs to surreptitiously drop incoming roaming calls. Obviously this is a short-sighted and problematic approach, which could lead to legal implications. Also, with the continued rollout of 4G networks there’s a need to insure that roaming between 2G, 3G and 4G networks is seamless. In light of the described changes in roaming charges, this may feel like another cost burden to an operator, but nevertheless one they need to embrace. It is here that Squire Technologies can help with our 4G Roaming Solutions that allow operators to commercially and technically begin small and scale up when demand dictates…

For more information on our Roaming Solutions click here.

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