Recently, we’ve been addressing in a series of blogs some of the questions that participants asked during a recent webinar we did with Infonetics on Diameter signaling in LTE networks. During the course of that webinar, we talked about some of the challenges that service providers are facing with LTE and how next generation Diameter Signaling Controllers (DSCs) have the ability to integrate Information Technology (IT) related protocols and Operations Support System (OSS)/Business Support System (BSS) resources. This caught the attention of webinar participants, and we were asked to elaborate on this concept. The ability to leverage IT protocols and information from signaling controllers is a feature of the next generation of DSCs that service providers are now starting to deploy. Before we get into that, let me briefly list the basic “phase one” capabilities of DSCs:
- Centrally manage and manipulate Diameter traffic through routing, proxy, mediation, session binding and redirect capabilities.
- Provide security and routing of signaling messages between home and visited networks for roaming applications.
As we suggested in the first blog in this series, the term DSC seems too restrictive, especially with the need for interworking between the Diameter protocol and other protocols, such as MAP/SS7 or RADIUS for authentication, authorization and accounting in Wi-Fi networks. So subsequent generations of DSCs are starting to not only provide routing and proxy capabilities, but also advanced protocol translation and enhancement of the signaling message flows to dynamically adjust how these messages are handled or what services subscribers can access.
One example of this could be where the DSC tests for the absence or presence of information in one of the many parameters in the Credit Control Application (CCA) messages that go between the Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW) and the Online Charging System (OCS) in the mobile core. The attributes in these messages contain valuable information about quota management, subscriber data and tariffs. The DSC with next generation capabilities would evaluate whether the various attributes in the signaling flows between these platforms meet certain criteria through tests and look-ups in real time with data repositories or OSS/BSS applications that the operator selects.
The protocols used to communicate between the DSC and these various data sources include LDAP, HTTP, XML and SOAP - the IT-related protocols I mentioned earlier. Subscriber and network intelligence exchanged with OSS/BSS platforms or other data sources could be used to do things like throttle signaling messages based on a subscriber black list, modify quality of service or quota levels based on subscribers that are part of a high-value account, or provide special treatment or reduce signaling flows for prepaid customers with little or no balance.
So what kind of new, smart services do you think would be possible with a next generation DSC (or should I say a Multiprotocol Signaling Orchestrator) that possesses these kinds of service enhancing capabilities? We’d like to know. You can tweet to us @Dialogic with your thoughts.