Feb 25, 2010

Telecom Analytics - the advantages of Diameter

Service Providers today are looking for new ways to increase revenues. One of the main paths towards achieving this goal is the use of analytics for targeted customer approach and for personalized, tuned, advanced and combined service offering. The above require real-time analysis of subscriber behavior and other information known to the service provider. This information should be analyzed per subscriber or a group of subscribers and used in order to tune customer service offering and user experience.
This information is available and encapsulated inside Diameter, some of the advantage of using Diameter compared to traditional Data path methods are:

Granularity of information – the information that flows in the control plane contains the most valuable and strategic information in the network – the location of the subscribers, their buddies (IM friends) list, their phone number, the kind of technology they use to connect to the network, their charging scheme, their IP Address, services they are using, etc.
Most of this information is not available in the in the service and the data domain.

Smaller amount of traffic – extracting information from the signaling flows can be done efficiently with software based solutions using off the shelf servers and is much more cost effective – the amount of traffic is typically 1/1,000 of the data path traffic.

Synchronization and correlation – the signaling flows in the control plane enable synchronization between different transactions and extraction of information according to pre-configured definitions. For example: extraction of all information related to a specific subscriber, a specific services, a group of users or even a specific location.

Pre-defined routes - extracting information from the data domain is not simple. For example: messages might go through one route, and come back via another, this is the nature of IP environments, and thus a large scale implementation covering all possible routes is required. Furthermore, the amount of data that should be processed for the large amount of available applications and proprietary protocols is enormous. In the signaling domain on the other hand, traffic is controlled, interactions and routing is fixed, the implementation effort is therefore several scales smaller and the correlation of information is easier.

Information that can be extracted from Diameter:

• Accounting-Record-Type
• WLAN-Information // used in WLAN access//
• Unit-Cost
• Traffic-Data-Volumes
• Time-Usage
• Tariff-Information
• Supplementary-Service // info on additional supported services //
• Charging-Rule-Base-Name
• QoS-Information
• Rating-Group
• Time-First-Usage
• Time-Last-Usage
• Time-Usage
• 3GPP-User-Location-Info
• SDP-Media-Name //file name //
• SDP-Media-Description // type, size,format …////
• Authorized-QoS
• SDP-Type
• 3GPP-Charging-Id
• 3GPP-PDP-Type
• PDP-Address
• QoS-Information
• GGSN-Address
• 3GPP-IMSI-MCC-MNC // Mobile Network Identifer //
• 3GPP-Charging-Characteristics
• Traffic-Data-Volumes
• User-Equipment-Info // terminal related information – vendor, model….//
• Terminal-Information
• Number-Of-Participants //for multi participent services //
• Participants-Involved //for multi participent services //
• Participant-Group //for multi participent services //
• LCS-Client-ID //Location info//
• Location-Type
• Location-Estimate
• Positioning-Data
• Calling-Party-Address //the call participents info//
• Called-Party-Address //the call participents info//
• Low-Balance-Indication
• Remaining-Balance
• Service-Indication
• Service-area-ID
• Global-Cell-ID
• Location-area-ID
• Bearer-Identifier
• Guaranteed-Bitrate-DL //QoS//
• Guaranteed-Bitrate-UL //QoS//
• QoS-Information
• RAT-Type AVP // Radio Access WLAN (0) UTRAN (1000) /GERAN (1001)/GAN (1002)/ HSPA(1003) ..//
• Termination-Cause
• User-Name


The signaling transactions through the control plane in telecom networks are the perfect enabler for network intelligence, analysis and user behavior monitoring. In Internet based networks over the top services model is the only model, the signaling is minimal and differentiation hardly exists. The common (and maybe best) way to extract user-related information is extracting it from the data path using DPI like products. The telecom market, however, offers a much richer and granular source of information which is encapsulated in the signaling path.

Using the signaling as the main source for network intelligence offers several advantages:
o Signaling is easier to collect - smaller in size, routes are predictable
o Signaling is much richer in information compared to the data path
o Signaling could be correlated easily
o In converged networks and roaming scenarios signaling is the only source of intelligence
o Cost efficient – no need for large scale deployment of expensive super processors, signaling domain – 1/1,000 of the usual amount of traffic, in predictable routes