Tag: Roaming

Integrating an OCS Platform to Facilitate 4G to 3G Roaming

Diameter Signalling

With DIAMETER signalling becoming the key interface for next generation networks and increasingly being driven by the growth of LTE, IoT, autonomous vehicles and VoLTE, it is crucial that operators are able to seamlessly communicate with subscribers as they traverse between legacy networks and IMS.

As a mobile operator deploys a state-of-the-art online charging system (OCS) in their 4G network, the platform needs to overcome inter-op challenges with subscribers as they roam into 3G networks.

An OCS platform typically supports a range of interface technologies – XML, HTML, JSON, DIAMETER etc. The charging functions in 3G networks are handled over the legacy SS7 CAMEL protocol. Furthermore in some 3G networks pre-pay subscribers are dynamically credit checked by the network over  Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), a legacy protocol commonly used for billing, location based services, mobile money and menu based information services.

To deliver end-to-end  3G <-> 4G Roaming you need to provide both CAMEL to DIAMETER and DIAMETER to USSD functionality.

 

THE SOLUTION
In order to manage the flexibility of DIAMETER and the forecasted volumes of signalling data the industry has developed a set of standard DIAMETER based network products. Included in this product set is the  Inter-Working Function (IWF)  which provides 3GPP specified DIAMETER to  SS7 CAMEL, MAP and RADIUS interworking and is obviously the primary product interface to the OCS.

 

 

At Squire Technologies our SVI_IWF product is tightly integrated with our Telephony Application Server (SVI_TAS) which provides a set of flexible API’s to allow for the rapid deployment of new interfaces, in this instance used to provide USSD to DIAMETER. The operator then went one step further and delivered a separate USSD application. They decided the interface to the OCS would optimally be performed over HTTP. It was a straightforward task to manipulate the HTTP API on the SVI_TAS to deliver this extended functionality.

 

The IWF is deployed and embedded in a pair of DIAMETER Routing Agent’s (DRA’s) that provide resiliency through redundancy, load sharing and balancing via sophisticated on-board routing.

Full support for session binding insures correct online credit control is being performed when multiple simultaneous services are being billed for a single subscriber.

 

 

This solution provides both flexibility and scalability for the operator. As network demand increases new instances of the OCS platform can be launched and configured to point its DIAMETER interface at the pair of DRA’s which will automatically route messages to and from the appropriate OCS. This model allows for ease of deployment in a cloud based NFV network allowing OCS resources to be easily deployed or removed as network demand dictates.

 

 

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.

Solving The 4G LTE Roaming Puzzle

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In our very latest whitepaper we look at the challenges faced by operators providing roaming services to their subscribers, as the number of 4G LTE networks increases.

GSMA statistics reliably show there are approximately 800 GSM Operators worldwide with an additional 1,250 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). 606 operators have launched 4G LTE networks, with the GSMA predicting an increase of a third by the end of 2020. There is a now a worldwide network made up of 2G, 3G and 4G technologies.

So how do you seamlessly navigate this morass and successfully provide roaming services for your subscribers, and how do operators easily and cost effectively take advantage of lucrative roaming revenues from inbound roamers?

With 4G LTE well on its way to becoming a ubiquitous service the coalescing of new and old technologies creates its own unique challenges. As with all new technology you cannot simply deploy it in a vacuum while simultaneously disregarding what’s gone before in the way of legacy technology, and this is especially true of the mobile industry where individual operators move at their own pace with 4G LTE deployment.

At its heart the problem is that 3G networks run on the SS7 protocol and 4G LTE networks run on the Diameter protocol. The product that supplies the functionality to bridge between these technologies is a Diameter Signalling Controller, which provides a solution for clients focussing on flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness.

4GLTEroamingBLOG
150x184x4Gpuzzle_paper_thumb.png.pagespeed.ic.35BBuX02lhIn this whitepaper you will learn:

  1. The fundamental technology issues that define Roaming between 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
  2. Which solution operators need to put in place to enable seamless roaming.
  3. What operators need to look for in a product to ensure ongoing success.

Read the full whitepaper now by downloading our Solving The 4G LTE Roaming Puzzle FREE whitepaper.

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