Wednesday, January 13, 2010

OFS Launches Hand-Held Core-Alignment Splicer

OFS has begun shipping its new hand-held core-alignment FITEL S178 Hand-Held Core-Alignment fusion splicer to the global market.


The splicer is significantly smaller and lighter in weight than previous models. In addition to rugged durability, the S178 offers an innovative, mirror-free alignment system which allows for simplified maintenance. The new battery system provides up to 200 splicing cycles (splicing/heating). The S178 can splice in 7 seconds at super low loss and heat in 25 seconds. It is available for all METRO/ LAN / FTTX fibers.
http://www.ofsoptics.comhttp://

AT&T Tweaks Wireless Pricing Plans

AT&T adjusted its pricing plans as well. The company is also offering different rates for Feature Phones, Quick Messaging Devices, and Smart Phones (including the iPhone). All smartphone customers, including iPhone customers, may now buy unlimited voice and data for $99.99. For smartphone customers with Family Talk plans (prices assume 2 smartphones), unlimited voice and data is now available for $179.99. Texting plans remain unchanged at $20 for unlimited plans for individuals, $30 for Family Talk Plans.
http://www.att.com

FCC Clears 700 Mhz Band

The FCC adopted an order prohibiting the further distribution and sale of devices that operate in the 700 MHz frequency. The order will primarily impact the use of wireless microphone systems that currently operate in the 700 MHz band.


This action helps complete an important component of the DTV Transition by clearing the 700 MHz band to enable the rollout of communications services for public safety and the deployment of 4G wireless devices for consumers.


The Commission has published a website to assist consumers who have previously purchased wireless microphone systems and other related devices that utilized the 700 MHz band.


"Our decision will accelerate the buildout of 4G wireless networks, and will prevent interference with first
responders who rely on the 700 MHz Band for mission-critical communications," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
http://www.fcc.gov

Sprint Touts its Unlimited Messaging and Data Plans

Responding to Verizon Wireless' announcement, Sprint announced that its Everything Data plans offer a savings of nearly $240 per year vs. Verizon's new Nationwide Talk & Text plans plus unlimited data package.


Families can save nearly $600 per year on unlimited messaging and data with Sprint Everything Data Family plans vs. Verizon's new Nationwide Talk & Text Family SharePlans plus unlimited data package.


Sprint's Everything Data plans include Any Mobile, Anytime for unlimited calling while on the Sprint network to and from any U.S. wireless user regardless of carrier, plus unlimited text, picture and video messaging, e-mail, Web browsing and exclusive data services, such as Sprint Navigation and NFL Mobile Live.


Sprint noted that text messaging traffic nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009, with 135.2 billion text messages sent and received in June 2009, compared to 75 billion a year earlier. Picture and multimedia messages have more than doubled, from 4.7 billion in June 2008 to 10.3 billion in June 2009. And mobile Internet usage has increased by almost one-half in the past two years, with 35 percent of Americans reporting they used the Internet on a mobile phone in a December 2009 survey, compared to 24 percent in December 2007.
http://www.sprint.com/everything

France Telecom-Orange Addresses Haiti

The France Telecom-Orange Group announced its initial series of measures for earthquake-hit Haiti:


Orange Dominicana, France Telecom-Orange group subsidiary in the Dominican Republic, took a number of emergency steps: local technical teams are working to improve means of communication in the border zone (power generators, fuel, radio stations and other technical equipment), mobiles have been handed out to humanitarian organisations and emergency satellite telephones have been loaned to the authorities.


The Group's teams in the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean region, in France and around the world, have also made themselves available to the local and international authorities to provide the technical and human resources needed to re-establish the telecommunications network in Haiti. Teams of experts and French network technicians (IP and mobile) will be on the ground as soon as possible.


France Telecom has decided to offer free calls to its mobile customers in mainland France to and from Haiti until the end of January, effective retroactively from 12 January when the earthquake took place. For its fixed-line mass-market customers in mainland France, France Telecom is offering free calls to Haiti until the end of February.


In France, as of 15 January, Orange will take part in a one-month operation, SMS for Haiti: three special numbers will allow all Orange customers to make a donation quickly and easily to the Red Cross, the Secours Populaire and the Secours Catholique humanitarian organisations.


To make a one-euro donation, customes simply have to text HAITI to 80222 for the Red Cross, 80333 for Secours Populaire, and 80444 for Secours Catholique. In return, they will receive the logo of the chosen charity on their mobile, along with a message confirming that the donation was registered. Operators will donate the cost of the SMS to the partner associations.


France Telecom will also participate in rebuilding efforts.
http://www.ft.com

GoAhead Acquires S3's embeddedMIND

GoAhead Software, which specializes in high availability middleware for network equipment and defense applications, will acquire the embeddedMIND business of S3. The deal includes all IP and staff associated with embeddedMIND business. Financial terms were not disclosed.


embeddedMIND, which is based in Poland, develops configuration management software for network equipment manufacturers. The company has been delivering best of breed configuration management software for several years with their commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solution. embeddedMIND's device configuration uses industry-standard management interfaces such as Command Line, Web / XML, SNMP, and the forthcoming Netconf interface.


GoAhead Software said COTS-based solutions in operating systems and other software layers have enabled equipment manufacturers to bring solutions to market faster than ever. By integrating embeddedMIND's Device Management Capability, it will be able to further reduce developments costs and risks. The embeddedMIND product will also continue to be offered as a stand-alone solution.
http://www.goahead.com
http://www.s3group.com

Haiti Donations by SMS Top $7 Million in 36 Hours

In 36 hours, donations made via mobile phones for Haiti Earthquake Relief have surpassed $7 million across all the short codes managed by the Mobile Giving Foundation, a non‑profit organization dedicated to helping other non-profits raise funds through SMS.
http://www.mobilegiving.org

Tektronix Unveils Spectra2 Core Network Test Platform

Tektronix Communications unveiled its Spectra2u Core Network test, enabling network equipment manufacturers and telecom operators to test NGN, VoIP and converged networks for functionality, conformance, performance and media quality. The Spectra2u, which leverages an Intel Dual Quad Core processing architecture, offers a low-cost footprint supporting IP and TDM interfaces for signaling and media.


Key features of the Spectra2u platform include:

  • High signaling and media load testing

  • Hundreds of thousands of endpoint emulations

  • Faster user response and heightened user experience

  • User-shared interface boards

  • PSTN & NGN protocol testing from a single interface board

  • Field upgradeable capacity adds without additional hardware

  • Complete portability of software from legacy platforms

  • Portable and rack mount configurations


Tektronix said platform enables greater testing productivity especially when combined with its newly released 7.0 Spectra2 software which includes the following capabilities:


  • M2PA Transport for ISUP and TCAP testing

  • Support for SIP Re-Invite Method to address mid-call codec changes

  • Multiple Generator Models for enabling the simultaneous execution of multi-protocol load tests from a single user license

  • H248v3 support for testing multi-party calls, message segmentation, and the TISPAN Ia interface

  • SIGTRAN support for ISUP, TCAP, and BICC testing on the low cost PC based Spectra2|SE testing solution
http://www.tek.com/spectra2

Ixia Increases Revenue Guidance and Announces Cost Reductions

Ixia currently expects revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 to increase by approximately 32% year-over-year and approximately 16% sequentially to $54 million to $56 million. Fourth quarter results include a full quarter of contribution following the acquisition of Catapult Communications in June 2009 and two months of contribution following the acquisition of the N2X product line from Agilent, which closed on October 30, 2009. Previous revenue guidance for the fourth quarter of 2009 had been in the range of $50 million to $54 million.


"Contributions from our recent acquisitions were complemented by increasing sequential and year-over-year revenues from our core products," said Atul Bhatnagar, president and chief executive officer. "We are cautiously optimistic that we are starting to see a broader, positive trend in our market and are confident that we have the right products and larger addressable market opportunities."


Ixia also announced today a company-wide restructuring initiative estimated to yield annual cost savings of approximately $11 million. The cost savings announced today result mainly from the elimination of duplicate resources that arose from the October N2X product line acquisition. In addition to these direct cost savings, the company expects to realize scale efficiencies in its supply chain and administrative functions from the N2X acquisition and the acquisition of Catapult Communications. The restructuring plan includes a reduction in staffing that commenced in the first quarter of 2010 and should be complete by June 30, 2010. Approximately 80 positions will be eliminated.
http://www.ixiacom.com

AudioCodes Appoints Chief Operating Officer

AudioCodes announced the appointment of Lior Aldema as Chief Operating Officer, reporting to Mr. Shabtai Adlersberg, President and CEO.


Lior Aldema has been with the Company since 1998 and has served in his recent position as Vice President Marketing and Product Management focusing on enterprise and service providers applications. He will assume responsibility for all business operational activities and will focus on streamlining and growing the diverse range of business lines, products and services for business communications and residential markets. Mr. Adlersberg shall continue his overall executive responsibility and shall focus on corporate planning and strategy, strategic marketing and business development.
http://www.audiocodes.com

ITU Joins Effort to Establish Links to Haiti

The ITU is deploying forty satellite terminals immediately in Haiti to re-establish basic communication links. A further 60 units with broadband facility are being dispatched along with experts to operate them. ITU will also set up a Qualcomm Deployable Base Station (QDBS), which is a complete cellular system designed for disaster zones. ITU has allocated a budget of over US$1 million to strengthen the disaster response effort in Haiti.
http://www.itu.int

SAIC to Acquire CloudShield for Cybersecurity Solutions

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) agreed to acquire CloudShield Technologies, a supplier of carrier-grade cybersecurity and management solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.


Founded in 2000, CloudShield's deep packet inspection (DPI) platform and applications enable customers to inspect, analyze and control all network traffic. CloudShield's IBM BladeCenter PN41 Blade scales from 20 Gbps for a single blade to 280 Gbps for a 14-blade chassis to greater than 1 Tbps per rack. CloudShield's CS-2000 System supports a range of connectivity options at full line rates, including multiple 1-Gbps links, SONET OC-12 & OC 48 links and 10-Gbps links. The systems provides total packet visibility and real-time analysis of traffic. Customers include large network operators as well as U.S. federal government agencies. CloudShield is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.


SAIC said the acquisition will enhance its cybersecurity offerings. CloudShield will join SAIC's Intelligence and Information Solutions Business Unit, part of SAIC's Intelligence, Security and Technology Group led by Stu Shea.


"As the technological landscape becomes more complex, our customers need to identify new ways to manage high-bandwidth IP-based data services. The increasing demands of file sharing, steaming videos and other services on existing infrastructure are driving the sales of our solutions," said Matt Jones, CEO of CloudShield. "We are pleased to become a part of SAIC, combining technologies, services and expertise that will enable us to develop more robust solutions for current and future customers."


The acquisition is expected to close by mid-February 2010.
http://www.saic.com/http://www.cloudshield.com

ACCESS Updates Mobile Browsers with Super Fast JavaScript

ACCESS CO. introduced its NetFront Browser v4.0 for mobile handsets and Internet-enabled devices. The browser performs JavaScript executions twenty times faster than ACCESS' NetFront Browser v3.5, resulting in a significantly better browsing experience overall, especially for websites that make heavy use of complex JavaScript.

"The more users and companies come to depend on cloud computing, the more important web application performance and web JavaScript execution become," said Tomihisa Kamada, president, CEO and co-founder of ACCESS.


ACCESS said its NetFront products, including the NetFront Browser, reached approximately 850 million users and 1,960 device models at the end of October 2009.
http://www.access-company.com

FCC Grants TerreStar ATC Authority

TerreStar Networks has been granted authority to integrate terrestrial use of its 20 MHz S Band spectrum into its next generation mobile wireless network. TerreStar plans to use this authority to enhance coverage, capacity and throughput in its integrated mobile satellite and terrestrial communications network that will provide ubiquitous North American access to voice and data services through conventional wireless devices.


In granting the ATC license, the FCC reaffirmed the value that integrated MSS/ATC networks bring by "facilitating increased network capacity, more efficient use of spectrum, extension of coverage for handset operation" as well as "improved emergency communications." The FCC also granted a number of technical waivers requested by TerreStar that will permit TerreStar to integrate ATC capability more efficiently.http://www.terrestar.com
  • In September 2009, AT&T agreed to market TerreStar's satellite cellular smartphone. The TerreStar GENUS Smartphone combines AT&T's 3G terrestrial wireless service with TerreStar's all-IP satellite voice and data as a back-up throughout the United States. The TerreStar satellite footprint also covers Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and offshore coastal waters. The satellite-terrestrial smartphone reference design represents the world's first quad-band GSM and tri-band WCDMA/HSPA device running the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, and offering integrated satellite-terrestrial voice and data capabilities.


  • In July 2009, TerreStar Networks successfully completed the first end-to-end VoIP phone call over its newly launched TerreStar-1, the world's largest, most advanced commercial communications satellite. The call used two handsets developed by EB (Elektrobit).

Verizon Teams with Lineage Power on Energy Efficiency

Lineage Power Corp. and Verizon Communications are partnering to test two new technologies that significantly decrease the amount of electricity used by information and communications technology (ICT) equipment.


Most networking gear converts electricity from commercial alternating current to direct current. The companies said this conversion process is inefficient, resulting in both the overconsumption of energy and the unnecessary creation of heat. The new technologies, which will be tested in five of Verizon's central office facilities, address that issue.


The technologies, part of Lineage Power's Total Efficiency Architecture, involve specially designed rectifiers and software. Lineage Power calculates that its systems will increase the efficiency of the AC/DC conversion process to up to 97 percent.


"This is important research in the area of energy efficiency, and Verizon is proud to support it," said James Gowen, chief sustainability officer for Verizon. "Two years ago, Verizon led the industry by creating the first-ever energy efficiency standards for telecom equipment. Our alliance with Lineage Power further demonstrates Verizon's commitment to ensuring that the most advanced global networks are also the most energy efficient."


Earlier this week, Lineage Power announced that it has been awarded a $2.4 million U.S. Department of Energy research and development grant that will fund the design, engineering, removal and installation costs, as well monitoring and research, associated with the tests of the new technologies.


ICT facilities account for approximately 3 percent of all U.S. electricity use. Rapid growth in the U.S. data center industry is projected to require two new large power plants per year just to keep pace with the expected demand growth.
http://www.lineagepower.com
http://www.verizon.comLineage Power Corporation, a Gores Group company, traces its heritage to AT&T, Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies and Western Electric. The company is based in Plano, Texas.

Sprint Wins $500 Million in New Federal Contracts

Sprint announced several new and renewed federal agency contracts valued at more than $500 million. Sprint also has made multiple GSA contract modifications that are expected to help fuel double digit-growth in 2010.


Key wireless contract wins in 2009 include:


Department of the Navy -- In September, Sprint received an extended one-year contract with U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps worth up to $20 million for wireless data and voice services, including primarily BlackBerry devices and Nextel Direct Connect.


United States Postal Service -- A new contract was awarded to Sprint is expected to produce estimated revenue up to $480 million during the eight-year period it will be in place. This new contract vehicle significantly streamlines and economizes the wireless spend for the U.S. Postal Service.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Sprint received a new five-year contract to provide wireless services to NOAA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Under this $10 million agreement effective April 1, 2009, Sprint services include Nextel Direct Connect, national and international wireless voice, and Sprint 3G Mobile Broadband devices. Such services provide NOAA employees the speed and flexibility they need to respond quickly to changing conditions and help enable them to work virtually when and where they want.
http://www.sprint.com

Intelsat Boosts Links to Haiti

Intelsat established two communication networks -- one in C-band and one in Ku-band -- to provide critical communication links to Haiti. The two networks, established via Intelsat's satellite and terrestrial network infrastructure, including its GlobalConnex Network Broadband service, are supporting governments, non-governmental organizations, network service providers, media, telecommunication operators and humanitarian efforts countrywide.
http://www.intelsat.com

CTIA: No Need for Net Neutrality in Wireless Broadband

Net neutrality rules are "inappropriate for wireless broadband networks and unnecessary to ensure that wireless consumers continue to enjoy the open Internet," according to comments filed with the FCC by CTIA, which represents the U.S. wireless industry. CTIA argues that all elements of the wireless ecosystem are flourishing in the U.S., and consumers are rapidly adopting broadband wireless services. "This is a model that is working for consumers and regulation is not needed."


The filing highlights five reasons why net neutrality is unnecessary for wireless:

  • Net neutrality rules would lead to unintended consequences. A lot is going right in the U.S. wireless market -- low prices, competition, and tremendous innovation -- all driven by tens of billions of dollars each year in investment. All elements of the wireless ecosystem are flourishing to the benefit of consumers. Adding regulatory uncertainty and the unintended consequences that will flow from these proposed rules will cause harm and ultimately will not benefit consumers.


  • There is no factual basis for application of net neutrality to wireless. The Commission cannot point to a market failure that would justify its proposed rules. Only theoretical harms that have been claimed for years -- harms that have never materialized.


  • The FCC's approach would be in stark contrast to international approaches to Internet openness. In the more concentrated and more heavily regulated European markets, regulators have decided to forgo the type of prescriptive regulation proposed by the FCC in favor of promoting competition to ensure consumer welfare.


  • Wireless networks are technologically different than other broadband technologies. Reliance on spectrum and the technical aspects of mobility pose unique challenges to wireless broadband providers. Capacity constraints (one strand of fiber optic cable has more capacity than the entire electromagnetic spectrum, of which wireless is one of many users), the close interaction between wireless devices and the wireless network, and licensed nature of wireless devices make the Commission's rules incompatible with wireless broadband.


  • The FCC should take a page from antitrust analysis -- monitoring the market and correcting failures -- rather than regulating non-existent harms. A recent paper by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that the broad goals of bringing consumers the best possible service and choice of broadband providers are best served by promoting competition. Several years of economic analysis of net neutrality reach the same conclusion -- careful monitoring of the market and correction of actual failures will better promote competition and consumer welfare than net neutrality rules.
http://www.ctia.org/advocacy/filings/
  • In October 2009, the FCC voted unanimously to adopt a draft set of rules to codify and supplement existing Internet openness principles while seeking public input on permanent regulations. Under the draft rules, a provider of broadband Internet access service may not:


    1) prevent any of its users from sending or receiving the lawful content of the user's choice over the Internet;


    2) prevent any of its users from running the lawful applications or using the lawful services of the user's choice;


    3) prevent any of its users from connecting to and using on its network the user's choice of lawful devices that do not harm the network; or


    4) deprive any of its users of the user's entitlement to competition among network providers, application providers, service providers, and content providers.


    5) subject to reasonable network management, a provider of broadband Internet access service must treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.


    6) subject to reasonable network management, a provider of broadband Internet access service must disclose such information concerning network management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and content, application, and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in this rulemaking.


    These six principles would apply to all platforms for broadband Internet access, including mobile wireless broadband, while recognizing that different access platforms involve significantly different technologies, market structures, patterns of consumer usage, and regulatory history.

Digicel Struggles to Maintain Service in Haiti

In a statement from its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, the Digicel Group confirmed that it has rushed technical support teams to Haiti and is struggling to continue limited service. Damage assessment for its mobile infrastructure in Haiti is not yet complete. Its main office in Port-au-Prince survived and employees evacuated the building safely. However, at least two of its workers not at the main facility died in the quake.


Digicel is one of the largest companies in Haiti having launched its mobile services in 2006 -- and as the largest foreign direct investor in Haiti. Digicel has over two million customers in Haiti and about 800 employees.


Digicel also said that it is donating US$5 million in cash to support the urgent relief efforts.
http://www.digicelgroup.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

LTE -- What Voice Services?

by Jose Deras, Vice President, Sales Engineering


Much has been written lately about increased bandwidth benefits of LTE and Communication Service Providers (CSPs) plans to deploy the technology as the 4G foundation. Many CSPs have announced their LTE plans, some have begun LTE data trials, and the first LTE commercial data service was launched in December in Scandinavia. For sure there's a coming wave of network upgrades and new handsets that will certainly transform mobile broadband.


CSPs considering the transition to LTE data are faced with the decision of whether to also offer LTE voice services in order to better utilize the new network infrastructure, or deploy LTE data-only networks. For the most part, it seems that the desire is there to transition to LTE voice sooner rather than later. This strategy makes sense as LTE requires entirely new radio access technology, from antennas to base station controller upgrades, and keeping two radio access networks greatly increases OPEX which might be best spread across a wider segment of offerings.


It is the ‘how' to deliver LTE voice services that has created confusion. When LTE was originally envisioned, the conventional thinking was that the CSP's networks would have transitioned to IMS architectures by then and therefore voice on LTE would naturally be based on VoIP. The reality is that as of this writing, there are very few true IMS production networks in place and therefore CSPs must reconcile how to quickly deploy LTE with the realities of network transformation timelines and budgets.

Options, options

Of course there are options on how to move forward with voice delivery architectures. The backdrop of which is the general agreement that current 2G and 3G networks will be in place for some time to come, and therefore CSPs must take into account not only how their network will evolve, but how to support roaming and handovers across multiple CSPs. In addition, the expectation is that current 2G / 3G subscribers will be the first to migrate to 4G as CSPs provide upgrade incentives, which puts additional burden of providing feature and service parity as part the upgrade as subscribers will expect their current call feature sets to behave the same once they upgrade.
Among the most studied options for voice delivery are:
• 3GPP IMS. The obvious long term solution for voice delivery is based on a migration to the IMS, leveraging industry know-how gained as part of the development of UMTS. Deployment of IMS-based LTE voice has been documented since IMS Release 8 and it's viewed as the preferred long term solution for voice evolution. Moving to IMS has the obvious advantage of commoditizing a large portion of the network, bringing with it all the benefits discussed for several years now.

 3GPP Circuit Switched FallBack. In addition to IMS, 3GPP has also proposed using a technique called Circuit Switched FallBack (CSFB), whereby the handset normally operates in 4G (LTE) mode when accessing data services and idle, but switches to a 2G or 3G radio when it is informed of an incoming call, or an outgoing call is placed, or for circuit-switched applications such as SMS. The handsets therefore are dual-mode, supporting 2/3G for voice and 4G for data services. A mechanism to inform the handset via 4G (IP data path) that a call is inbound does need to be formalized, and there is some concern regarding longer call setup times instigated by the necessity of switching radios.

 Voice over LTE Generic Access. Another option that has been put forth is Voice over LTE Generic Access (VoLGA), supported by a newly-formed industry consortium known as the VoLGA Forum. VoLGA proposes utilizing the IMS-based LTE radio access network, but maintains the circuit-switched network (either GSM or CDMA based) by introducing a network element known as the VANC (VoLGA Access Network Controller).

 Proprietary Solutions. Other options do exist, such as upgradable IP-enabled MSCs, but those tend to be tied to a specific vendor architecture and may be best approached by current customers.
To be clear, these architecture options address how to marry the packet-switched LTE radio network with the service operator core network for the purpose of delivering voice. What is not immediately apparent is how does the CSP deliver voice applications, such as Find Me / Follow Me, Voice VPN, CRBT and all the critical revenue generating add-ons that subscribers use and would expect to migrate to LTE.

Service Brokering

Regardless of the architecture chosen, CSPs will be faced with application delivery challenges created by the transition in LTE to packet based voice. Today's voice services are predominantly delivered via Service Control Points (SCP) or Intelligent Network (IN) Application Servers that rely on IN protocols (such as INAP and CAMEL) for complex call control. Those services tend to be highly stable and profitable and also highly customized, and are therefore not easily moved to SIP-based application servers. Recreating the functionality of deployed IN-based applications requires a exhaustive survey, documentation, and duplication of used features and capabilities, a task that may not be easily achieved. CSPs will need to deliver these same services (down to feature sets and even quirky behavior) on LTE subscribers to ensure migrated users have the same level of service and experience.
As CSPs evolve their networks for LTE, the resulting networks present tremendous challenges in voice services and application delivery. It's the same challenge faced in migrations to NGN and IMS. Realizing this opportunity, the telecom software industry has come forward with a purpose-built network element: the Service Broker, a solution specifically designed to overcome network architecture challenges and ensure voice service delivery from any network domain to any other network domain.

Service Brokers are placed between the application layer and the control layer, with the purpose of delivering and extending the reach of applications to all network domains of the CSP. They do this by performing the signaling, media and call control interworking between the applications and different network domains. Implicit in the successful deployment of service brokers is the capability of delivering the required interworking without necessitating changes to either the applications or the networks. The risk of "breaking something" in the migration of the applications is removed by not touching or modifying existing code.
Let's take a look at how Service Broker might fit within two of the most popular network proposals, IMS and VoLGA.

LTE Voice over IMS

Service Brokers provide the capability of extending current voice services by providing seamless call / session interworking between the packet switched LTE access network, and circuit-switched 3G applications without requiring changes to either. For those CSPs that have fixed line networks as well, they are also able to reutilize voice services which may have been only offered in that network domain to new wireless LTE subscribers.

In the figure above, LTE clients are able to access all applications they previously used, such as PrePaid, CRBT, Voice VPN, Find Me / Follow Me, etc, and therefore are not required to change their subscribed services. From a network perspective, the Service Broker enables the IMS network to "see" the existing applications as new SIP-based applications, by providing the interworking required. As far as the IMS network is concerned, the Service Broker is the SIP server, while to the existing SCPs the Service Broker is an existing 3G MSC.

LTE via Circuit Switched FallBack

For those service providers deploying CSFB, the 2G/3G network remains unchanged so existing applications will work unchanged on LTE. Service brokers are therefore not required for those applications but may instead be useful to prepare the core network for the eventual migration towards IMS. New IMS-based application servers can be utilized on the 2G/3G circuit switched networks, ensuring all new application deployments are based on the IMS architecture.

When ready, the service provider may then migrate to LTE over IMS using their IMS based application servers. Service brokers remain in place to provide connectivity for older applications, and to perform service orchestration and sequencing, thereby extending their useful life.

LTE Voice over VoLGA

Those CSPs that choose to follow an architecture based on the VoLGA forum proposals, the Service Broker provides as similar benefit as with CSFB, allowing next-gen SIP-based applications to be utilized by the existing 3G network.

Service Broker Functions

Service Brokers provide other functionality that, once deployed, can be of added benefit to the CSP. Among the most often delivered features are:
• IMS SCIM (now renamed the IMS Service Broker)
• IN-IN Trigger Management
• Real-Time Charging
• Protocol/Call Flow Management
• Subscriber Data Management Interaction
• Media Resource Brokering
• Service Orchestration
The Service Broker's ability of performing orchestration and combination of discrete voice applications and services into new combined offerings (voice mash-ups) is particularly exciting. With this capability CSPs are able of create new revenue producing offers to subscribers where they previously were not available: CRBT and PrePaid, Find Me / Follow Me combined with Voice VPNs, etc.

Service Brokers also provide the capability of generating Real Time Charging events, either programmatically (via an API) or automatically as part of service delivery. The challenge facing CPSs is delivering new, innovative services that seamlessly integrate into existing billing platforms. Doing so often means normalizing charging events or even transforming charging events from one technology to another, as is the case in IN to IMS migration. Because the Service Broker is responsible for orchestrating and delivering combinational services, it is often then the responsibility of the Service Broker to generate a charging event upon successful start / completion of those enhanced services.

Conclusion

CSPs are currently spending a lot of time and energy qualifying LTE radio access network technology, which will ensure live deployments maintain or exceed current mobile reliability. The next several quarters will prove interesting as CSPs choose LTE voice delivery architectures, much of it influenced by time and their own network designs requirements. Careful consideration of voice services and applications will ensure high-value customers (early LTE adopters) are able to enjoy the same voice features and services they are currently used to, ensuring they are permanent converts. Service Brokers will play a critical role in ensuring CSPs are able to immediately migrate current voice revenue platforms for those early LTE subscribers.

About the Author


Jose Deras is Vice President, Sales Engineering at AppTrigger, where he handles technical sales engagements. Prior to AppTrigger he was VP Sales Engineering for Siemens Communications, responsible for the global technical sales and support for the broadband equipment segment. At Siemens (which acquired startup Efficient Networks), Jose also held positions of VP Product Line Management and Director of Technical Marketing and Business Development. Prior to Efficient Networks, Jose held several roles in sales and sales engineering at Compaq Computer and Networth Inc., a startup in Dallas, TX that Compaq acquired in 1995.

About 
The Service Broker Forum

The Service Broker Forum is a multi-vendor association with the goal of evangelizing and educating the telecommunication industry on the service broker product category through the sharing of ideas, opinions, and knowledge. Founded by industry leaders in the Service Broker market space, the forum provides a common platform to facilitate discussion and communication around the many benefits that can be realized from utilizing Service Brokers within an overall network evolution strategy. Learn more about it at
http://www.servicebrokerforum.com