The world is moving to IP. Everywhere. In our networks, in our homes, and in our day-to-day lives. This means everything we do is impacted somehow by IP and the Internet. As networks migrate away from Time Division Multiplexed (TDM) based networks to all IP packetized infrastructure, a world of opportunity opens up for the service provider.
When moving to IP, everything becomes packetized. When the network becomes packetized, we can send more and more intelligence through the network. Intelligence means more control over our network resources, and the very services they provide. There needs to be more than just IP for this intelligence to manifest itself and Diameter is the source of that intelligence.
Diameter is the replacement for SS7. Remember that SS7 brought intelligence into the digitized world of telephone networks and enabled revenue generating services like Free Phone (800 services in the US) and made CDMA/GSM networks possible. It is SS7, after all, that allows mobile switches to track subscribers as they roam from network to network, share their capabilities with other networks, and deliver text messaging to their devices.
But SS7 is limited to supporting TDM networks. When the network migrates to IP, a new signaling protocol is necessary to support packet services. Diameter provides much of what SS7 provides today and much more. It is Diameter that ties new Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) platforms together forming a cohesive, transparent policy function network wide. This allows service providers to manage the amount of bandwidth individual subscribers are allowed to consume based on their service plan, time of day, network conditions, and even device type and application type.
This is much more than SS7 could ever deliver, but there are more advantages than just this. Diameter is also used to migrate the charging network to packet. This means the entire network can be migrated to IP, and Diameter can be used as the signaling protocol in all domains. Migrating the charging network to IP and Diameter allows service providers to eliminate costly TDM facilities for billing domains, and brings a much more flexible signaling protocol into the network.
It is flexible because the Diameter protocol is designed to allow extensions to the protocol. The IETF has defined the base function for Diameter that is mandatory for all network elements to conform to, to enable interoperability. But 3GPP has expanded the definition of the Diameter protocol to include applications network-wide.
This means vendors can also develop their own extensions to further enhance the Diameter protocol and the interactions between their products without jeopardizing interoperability with other devices. This is why Diameter is growing in popularity, and this is why it is smart to deploy Diameter now and add to the network as you grow.
Don’t wait for LTE or IMS. Implement Diameter in your network now to support your 3G services. This is smart because when you do implement LTE, you will either have to begin interconnecting Diameter elements within the network or you will have to use mediation devices to interconnect these elements, and then later phase out the mediation devices. It makes more sense to utilize the Diameter interfaces in your network today, and grow as your network grows.
This also means you can take advantage of functions such as Policy and packetizing the charging domains. All that is required is an IP backbone, and a Diameter Signaling Router (DSR). The DSR acts as a Diameter Routing Agent in your network, providing security, congestion controls, and load balancing. Check out our white paper, The Time for Diameter is Now, for more details on how you can begin reaping the benefits of Diameter today, and the role of the DSR in your network.