Mobile roaming revenues will exceed $80 billion by 2017 according to a recent Juniper Research study. It’s just more evidence that revenues from roaming are growing in 3G – a fact that will only build momentum once LTE roaming starts.
As customer expectations around constant connectivity grow, and as new devices like the iPhone 5 raise the bar on what is expected “at home” or “in the office” or “when traveling,” operators will have to address new roaming challenges.
LTE devices and the applications and services they trigger will increase the need for more monitoring and orchestration of communications. Inherently, the volume of Diameter traffic will rise as well to support data access on partners’ LTE networks.
Unlike signaling storms, roaming is unlikely to generate an unforeseen, huge swell in Diameter signaling traffic in the early stages of LTE roaming. Typically, LTE is deployed in limited markets with limited subscribers, keeping the signaling attributed to roaming at a containable level.
However, roaming-driven Diameter traffic will steadily increase as operators first open up roaming to other areas. As LTE roaming builds, operators will have to manage 2G/3G-to-LTE and LTE-to-LTE roaming.
Diameter is the LTE protocol responsible for setting up data sessions, authorizing subscriber activity, authenticating subscribers and accurately charging for data usage. It’s critical and most operators want to be prepared, as so many in North America, EMEA, APAC and other regions are already inquiring, testing or implementing new signaling infrastructure in light of the competitive changes they see coming their way.
According to Tejaswini Tilak, Global Head of Carrier Services at IPX provider Telstra Global, “Operators are examining how to maximize the benefits that LTE networks provide, and international roaming is the first step.”
As carriers build out LTE networks and roaming capabilities, they will need not only Diameter Signaling Routers (DSRs) but also complementary pieces like Policy Servers, Policy Control Enforcement Points (PCEFs), Online and Offline Charging, and robust Subscriber Data Repositories – all of which comprise the New Diameter Network optimized for an all-IP world.