Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have made significant capital investments as they upgrade and expand their networks. GSMA Intelligence estimates that the industry as a whole has invested over the last six years $1 Trillion (US) on mobile broadband infrastructure. And they project that CSPs will spend another $1.7 Trillion through 2020 for further upgrades and improvements. That’s a 4.7% increase year-over-year; however, at the same time, revenues are expected to grow at only 2.9% on an annual basis during that same time frame leaving CSPs scratching their heads wondering where the return is going.
What’s causing this need to grow and expand networks? 4G subscribers use more bandwidth than their 3G counterparts, and the number of those subscribers is growing. Also, connected devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT) are proliferating across all business segments, and one of the effects on mobile networks is a significant increase in the amount of signaling traffic needed to support the resulting demand.
CSPs are motivated to look for ways to improve and accelerate the return on investment in their CAPEX outlays. The move to all-IP networks is making that easier, but that’s not enough – we need to start looking at signaling as an asset. We’ve put together an infographic identifying some ways a next generation Signaling Controller can manage and enhance signaling to help CSPs on a path towards network monetization through:
Let’s take a look at a couple of the ways this can be done.
Avoiding Vendor Lock-In
Not all Diameter interfaces are created equal, even if they conform to the IETF and 3GPP standards. Also, different vendors may implement Diameter interfaces differently based on their interpretation of these standards. This results in interoperability issues that can slow down or bring to a halt network deployment. Or it can result in increases in CAPEX and OPEX in getting network nodes to communicate in order to turn up a new service or feature for customers. One approach that some CSPs think will solve this issue is to use a single vendor for Evolved Packet Core (EPC) deployment, but it no way does that guarantee interoperability. Also, what happens when you have to interconnect with another network that utilizes a different infrastructure vendor? A 2015 Telecoms.com survey of CSPs and ecosystem participants in the communications industry indicated that 50% of the companies polled saw Vendor Lock-In as a significant problem especially when it comes to virtualization. A Diameter Signaling Controller (DSC) can provide basic protocol mediation, but a next generation DSC can provide additional value to mediation work flows with conditional logic, caching and lookups to external data sources to resolve vendor interoperability issues and allow CSPs take a best of breed approach when deploying 4G networks.
Roaming is one of the ways that CSPs can increase their ROI on these huge outlays in 4G voice and data. Juniper research estimates that operator revenues from mobile data roaming will be about $42 billion by 2018, and that’s even with the eventual elimination of EU roaming charges taken into account. Also, consider this; Cisco VNI estimates that 3G subscribers will still make up 45% of the mobile connections by 2017. This reinforces the need for interoperability between disparate 3G, 4G and VoLTE networks to enable CSPs to monetize their 4G investment. A next generation signaling controller is a critical component for MNOs and IPX operators to route, mediate, and interwork signaling to make LTE voice and data roaming a reality.
There are several other areas where a next generation signaling controller can help improve network ROI. I’ll go into more detail in a future blog. In the meantime, download this infographic to help get you started. Let us know what you think by tweeting us at @Dialogic.