Feb 21, 2009

Barcelona – thoughts in Layer 5

This week I been in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
A lot of words were written about the show, by people with much more knowledge and better writing skills.
I will try to give another view of the show – not from the shiny handsets point of view, but from the Diameter view of things.
I think that from the network side there are three main trends/activities that are happening and have close symbiotic relationship with Diameter
The first one is Convergence, I know it’s been around since the millennium, but it’s really happening, maybe not because of the service transparency and new services, as much as the fact that it can save OPEX and CAPEX and create new revenues by opening new markets. Convergence requires a lot of Diameter, but also presents a huge challenge in the Diameter level – how to connect wireline and mobile infrastructure that use different Diameter standards, or how to connect mobile Diameter based equipment to ISP equipment that is still using RADIUS.

The second trend is LTE, it’s enough to see some of the press releases from Verizon, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent to understand that the industry is aligning behind the technology, and in 2010 we are expected to see the first roll outs.
LTE represent a all new set of Diameter interfaces, with brand new networks that are using (by the standard) more than 45 Diameter interfaces, Diameter is everywhere and actually not limited to the core anymore, it is moving out to the edges, up to the last mile – those Diameter interfaces are not out there yet – so what will NEP’s do – I guess as always – build their own semi standard interfaces – and will continue to sweat on interoperability and lock the operators

The last trend is the Cloud – some heavyweights such as IBM, are pushing it, and they see it taking over the telecom world.
Financially it makes sense, mainly with MVNO’s and small operators but also with the Tier-1’s that don’t want to spend billions on OPEX and CAPEX.
I think one of the main issues that I can see from that level is that there are going to be huge interoperability issues, and the datacenters will need to have Diameter Gateways in the entrance to the cloud to make sure the information can be spread inside the cloud with no vendor and standard lock-in.

There are a few more things that changed this year, such as UMA – one of the big trends of the last few years almost disappeared, and it seems that Mobile WiMax might be going in the same route, unless something drastic will change, most of the people I met weren’t’ optimistic on its future.

That it, next time I will try to dig in Diameter and LTE, what is new, and some of the challenges.

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