ABI Research: SS7 ‘not left for dead’ despite diameter signalling growth

Internet of Things
IoT devices currently rely on 2G and 3G technologies.

The deployment and take-up of LTE services is driving the adoption of diameter signalling, which is the protocol that servers and software use to communicate within the core of the LTE network.

However, ABI Research noted that this growth does not mean that traditional signalling system 7 (SS7) functions used in 2G and 3G networks “will be left for dead”.

The research company pointed out that usage of SS7 and diameter-based signalling networks varies in different regions. For instance, 2G network usage, especially general packet radio service (GPRS) technology, is still predominant in emerging markets like Africa and Latin America.

In addition, the deployments of machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices currently rely on 2G and 3G technologies, which feature low cost, low power, and low data consumption.

To address these needs, ABI Research said diameter interworking functions (IWF) will serve as a bridge between legacy 2G/3G networks and 4G LTE networks. IWF allows for a seamless transition between LTE and 2G/3G networks through protocol conversion and behavioural translation.

ABI Research analyst Lian Jye Su said IWF would allow mobile operators to support the legacy SS7 of 2G and 3G networks.

“These networks may become increasingly expensive as vendors reduce investment in those technologies while maintaining the forward momentum of 4G LTE that requires diameter–based signalling,” Su added.

Meanwhile, the adoption of diameter signalling will continue to show strong growth as mobile operators migrate to LTE for key services, such as voice and video calls.

ABI Research noted that global LTE subscriptions are expected to reach almost 4 billion by 2021 and will rely on evolved packet core (EPC), voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) networks -- all of which use diameter signalling.

For more:
- see this ABI Research release

Related articles:
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LTE still relevant despite a burgeoning 5G and IoT landscape
IHS: VoLTE users to reach 1B worldwide by 2020

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