Mar 3, 2009

LTE and Diameter

It seems LTE is moving to the manufacturing halls.
The industry has aligned behind it (leaving far behind some potential alternatives such as Mobile WiMax), and in recent weeks we saw some new announcements on first deployments in Tier-1’s in 2010.
What place does Diameter take in LTE architecture ? well it seems much bigger than in the past, even compared to IMS.

There are about 15 new Diameter interfaces (on top of the existing 30 inherited from previous 3GPP versions and that are also used in LTE), and Diameter is getting out of the network core, closer to the edge and to the interconnectivity and roaming connections between operators.
However there are some warning signs – LTE standards are still work in progress, and the same for the LTE Diameter interfaces – so the potential for interoperability, connectivity and vendor lock-in issues is stronger than ever before.
Here in Traffix we supplied a number of network equipment vendors with LTE Diameter interfaces – and surprisingly each one wanted a different version of the still forming LTE (3GPP Rel. 8) specifications.
In some places where the standards and the Diameter interfaces are still too young to do the job, the equipment vendors are using earlier Diameter interfaces – again this wont contribute to connectivity.
So what’s the conclusion – well that the interoperability issues that operators are facing today won’t disappear with LTE, actually I believe they will be even bigger than in the past, especially in the first 2-3 years of LTE deployments.
I believe this might also slow LTE adoption – operators will understand the immaturity and that the “dream” is far from reality, and the related costs and will prefer to wait a bit until LTE will be more mature.
Actually it sounds a bit like IMS all over again (just replace LTE with IMS in the lines above :-) )

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