Global LTE Diameter traffic is projected to grow more than twice as fast as mobile data, according to Oracle Communications’ most recent LTE Diameter Signaling Index. That translates into a jump from 1.2 million messages per second (MPS) in 2012 to nearly 99 million MPS in 2017.
The fastest growth will come from Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – increasing from just over 50,000 MPS in 2012 to 17.9 million MPS in 2017. That represents a 224% compound annual growth rate. This year growth is pegged at an eightfold increase while 2014 is expected to see more than a fivefold jump.
Regional LTE Diameter signaling traffic growth forecasts, 2012-2017 from the Oracle Communications LTE Diameter Signaling Index.
Like North America, EMEA’s increase will be attributable to a myriad of increasingly sophisticated services, such as: tiered services, shared data plans, casual usage and loyalty programs, “toll-free” or sponsored data usage, mobile advertising, quality enhanced OTT applications and content, and loud and machine-to-machine (M2M) services.
For these types of services, mobility, policy and online charging (OCS) will drive LTE Diameter signaling -- the principal protocol for managing authorization, authentication, quality of service (QoS), and charging and policy parameters in LTE services. For example, video and gaming require QoS parameters and enforcement, and voice over LTE (VoLTE), M2M, video/audio teleconferencing, and other new services will also require more rules, monitoring and enforcement through policy and tighter integration with OCS.
And, as LTE services invite segmentation and personalization of subscriber and service types, more communication will be necessary among IP network elements, such as policy servers, charging systems and mobility gateways.
EMEA Regional Diameter Signalling by Use Case, 2012-2017
Policy is expected to surpass basic mobility as the main driver of Diameter signaling by 2017. It will account for 62% of global volumes in that period. In EMEA, the policy growth curve will be striking, with a 243% CAGR through 2017.
Additionally, the rising number of LTE subscribers will lead to more chargeable events, and a greater amount of signaling for both offline charging systems (OFCS) and OCS.
OCS is forecasted to represent 20% of the signaling, with a 237% CAGR for the five-year period and 3.8 million MPS by the end of 2017. OFCS is forecasted to have a CAGR of 119%, representing 2% of the total MPS for EMEA.
In addition to policy and OCS, mobility plays a unique role in EMEA thanks to the numerous regional geographic boundaries – each with different degrees of LTE penetration. Diameter messages will be necessary for roaming use cases among countries and between 3G and 4G LTE networks.
Overall, increased LTE penetration and advanced policy and charging use cases means Diameter signaling will be vital for managing communication among critical LTE network elements, including policy servers, online and offline charging systems, user data repositories, mobility management entities, policy control enforcement points, and session management, like a call session control function.
That increase will drive demand for products to intelligently manage the signalling. Exact Ventures forecasts the market for Diameter signaling controllers (DSCs) will reach $4.1 billion (€3 billion) in cumulative revenues between 2012 and 2018.
The DSC will facilitate a Diameter signaling layer in the LTE network core. Oracle’s Tekelec Diameter Signalling Router, for example, gives CSPs a central vantage point to support tens of millions of concurrent sessions and hundreds of millions of subscribers and devices. Further, the Diameter signalling router acts as the single interconnect point to other networks, providing a first point of contact at a network’s edge for LTE roaming and partnerships with third-party application providers.
For these reasons, the Diameter Signalling Router will become the network’s demarcation point for creating:
· Roaming gateways (2G/3G-to-LTE and LTE-to-LTE protocol mediation)
· Linkages to cloud, content and M2M providers
· Centralized management of security and topology hiding
As the network’s central nervous system, the Diameter signaling router can manage all Diameter routing, traffic management, load balancing and protocol interworking. It helps mitigate signaling outages and preserve a positive customer experience as new services, devices and usage patterns place higher demands on networks.
As this evolution takes place, the Diameter signaling layer assumes greater importance – not only reducing outages or performance degradations, but also helping CSPs to assert themselves as “enablers” in internet/content-driven ecosystems.
This “enablement” is expected to be driven by virtualization and the movement to cloud infrastructure, which will make it more cost effective and efficient for CSPs to move toward intelligent, software-defined networks.
For now, CSPs in EMEA need architectural agility to handle signalling and data traffic surges. The Diameter signalling router is the first step, and its virtualization – already in progress – will help CSPs keep pace with and drive the digital lifestyle revolution currently under way, reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
Doug Suriano is VP of products at Oracle Communications