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Deep Packet Inspection: Getting the Most Out of 5G

Deep Packet Inspection, or DPI, has been hard at work for over a decade. That’s about how long service providers have relied on DPI to deliver different subscriber services and service enhancements, such as parental control and other modes of content filtering, and as a way of providing end users with security services that keep their connected devices safe.

DPI adds IP traffic analytics capabilities to network analytics, traffic management and network security solutions. The software classifies thousands of applications and protocols, provides content and metadata extraction and delivers crucial information from IP traffic based on metrics and heuristics.

The 5G Revolution

Within a few years, mobile data networks will be connecting billions of devices through a mix of mobile and wired networks, passing through over 500,000 data centers representing countless globally interconnected servers. DPI will play a central role in making sure that all traffic-utilizing networks are there for good reason.

It’s estimated that more than 3.5 billion devices will make use of 5G in the near future as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial IoT (IIoT) come to rely on the unprecedented speeds that 5G networks provide. There is no doubt that applications will be developed and adapted to make use of the leap forward in mobile broadband capacity that 5G represents.

Billions of Interconnected Devices

There are currently about 10 million 5G subscribers worldwide, but this number is projected to increase rapidly. Within five years, it is predicted that nearly 2 billion devices will be connected via 5G networks, and 5G will account for fully 20 percent of all broadband mobile subscriptions. More than four billion IoT devices are expected to use cellular connections within the next five years, and 45 percent or more will make use of 5G spectrum technologies.

Mobile networks will be inundated with traffic. Everything from basic service functions to localized traffic management, session control, and policy enforcement will place an unprecedented load on network and service providers.

More Devices, More Traffic

Everything from 60-frames-per-second 4K video streaming to mobile platforms to IoT devices sending keep-alive packets will pass through these networks, and it will all rely on high-speed, low-latency service. With this vast growth in traffic, DPI becomes increasingly important to the operative function of service providers and their networks.

To keep up with the leap in mobile data traffic, service providers face the need for faster analysis and control of the data moving through their infrastructure. 5G brings with it advances like network slicing, which enables virtualized logical networks to coexist on the same physical infrastructure. These slices function as fully isolated and private networks. DPI can detect, inspect, and control the traffic on each of these virtualized network slices in real time, which makes the multiplexing of disparate and varied networks not only possible but also robust and responsive.

Unprecedented Control

The challenges of localized traffic management in the coming 5G environment will require service providers to evaluate and control a vast amount of high-speed network activity. With DPI enabling agile provisioning and fast, efficient enforcement of policies, service providers can ensure their users will experience a consistently high quality of service. DPI can monitor and control traffic with unprecedented granularity — on the level of individual subscribers and applications, and even if that traffic is encrypted.

The level of control provided by DPI ensures immediate enforcement of security policies, identity verification, management of access, application filtering, and real-time unified threat management. Protecting networks and their users from DDoS attacks, intrusion, and malware will become increasingly important as more types of devices become native to 5G.

As advances like edge computing seek to leverage the throughput provided by 5G, network and service providers will be tasked with on-the-fly provisioning of computational power and storage access across a variety of network infrastructure and physical locations. DPI, with its ability to detect and route traffic unique to a specific user, application, or virtualized network, enables the level of analysis and control necessary to ensure these new technologies can deliver increased functionality and efficiency.

Enabling Emerging Technologies

A new generation of solutions requires Ultra-Reliable, Low Latency Communication (or URLCC) to send and receive data in a consistently flawless, incredibly rapid stream. Think of technologies like self-driving cars — the Vehicle-to-Vehicle (or V2V) communication necessary for these intricate and perforce responsive systems relies on data traffic which is accurate, error-free, and up-to-the-millisecond. Likewise, something like Remote Surgery — which promises to bring the best surgical care to patients around the world — couldn’t exist without a foolproof method for ensuring the needed network resources are allocated to mission-critical applications in real time. DPI enables these sorts of data streams and can provide exactly what’s needed, when and where, in these kinds of demanding remote computing environments.

DPI: What You Need to Know Next

ipoque, a Rohde & Schwarz company, is a global leader in providing OEM network analytics solutions for network equipment and software vendors as well as communication service providers. ipoque relies on DPI to enable and empower their customers to understand and control their networks in ways never before possible.

A whitepaper recently published by ipoque looks into the various network- and service-level enhancements that 5G will bring, and details the need for analysis and application awareness throughout networks utilizing 5G. The whitepaper offers an in-depth look at how DPI can empower operators with the tools they need to manage the new applications, enhancements, and services being ushered in by 5G.

Learn more about DPI and its capability to classify and control IP traffic in real time by reading the ipoque whitepaper, available here. 5G will bring advances unlike any seen before in telecommunications, and ipoque — and DPI — will enable service and network operators to meet the demands made by these new applications and solutions.

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.