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Tekelec ramps up focus on LTE signaling


Smartphones and tablets aren’t just taxing the bandwidth capabilities of today’s wireless networks, they are putting a similar strain on the network elements managing the massive amount of signaling and data session traffic such devices generate. That’s causing headaches for mobile operators and opportunities for vendors to help them manage the signaling onslaught.

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Tekelec, with vast experience helping carriers manage large scale SS7 networks, has been turning its attention to wireless challenges for some time now. It added policy and data management platforms by acquisition (CP: Tekelec acquires Camiant, Blueslice Networks). And earlier this year integrated its performance management and troubleshooting solutions with its Diameter Signaling Router to create a hub to monitor and troubleshoot all the Diameter traffic whipping between boxes on today’s IP networks (Tekelec: Tekelec addresses LTE signaling challenges).

This month, it continued to lay out its 4G signaling strategy, announcing it had successfully integrated its session, policy, performance and data management products into a complete LTE signaling solution. (Briefing Room: Tekelec Introduces Integrated LTE Solutions). Tekelec’s LTE product suite includes a Home Subscriber Server (HSS), Diameter Signaling Router, Policy (Policy and Charging Rules Function-PCRF) Server and Performance Intelligence Center. Tekelec said the solution is being deployed by one undisclosed tier-one North American mobile operator. It previously announced an LTE signaling win with prepaid operator MetroPCS, which is rapidly growing its device and data business (Briefing Room: Tekelec Selected for Signaling Evolution to LTE).

At the core of those solutions is Tekelec’s take on centralized router for handling Diameter traffic, which it says is growing rapidly in 4G networks. “As a protocol, Diameter’s primary use in a 3G environment was for things like charging, and more recently policy control,” said Jason Emery, director of product management for Tekelec. “As we grow and evolve these networks, Diameter takes on a much broader set of responsibilities,” such as mobility management. As the use of Diameter grows, so does the signaling load it generates. At that point, operators “need a routing layer,” said Emery.

“It’s good to be adopting Diameter for all of these different uses,” he said, but vendors implementing Diameter on individual network elements didn’t necessarily “focus on the network-wide-level robustness of the protocol, things like congestion management, peer congestion control or redirecting on failure. Providing those capabilities in a core network routing function is much simpler.”

It was that belief that led Tekelec to focus strongly on developing a centralized Diameter routing capability, which sits at the center of its LTE solution. According to Emery, operators aiming to scale 4G networks beyond initial trials are seeing the benefits of centralized Diameter routing, and the vendor has responded to more than a dozen RFPs for such capabilities. Other vendors with Diameter routing solutions include specialists like Traffix Systems; SBC vendors including Acme Packet; traffic management players like F5 networks; policy providers such as Openet; and eventually, if not yet today, large IMS/RAN players like Huwaei and Ericsson.

For its part, Tekelec comes at the Diameter opportunity “from a heritage of core network signaling and routing,” said Emery. It is chasing the need quickly, sending the second release of its Diameter router into the field over the past few months and targeting a third release by the end of the year. “We’re well on the way to seeing large scale network deployments,” he said.


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