Diego Arrabal, VP, Southern Europe and Middle East at F5 Networks talks about how services providers can unlock the value of 4G by using real-time, context aware technologies as they scale to cope with surging traffic demand.
According to the 2014 Ericsson Mobility report, 65% of the world’s population will be covered by LTE in 2019, with data traffic in the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region alone set to increase 11-fold between 2013 and 2019.
But while service providers are nott exactly shy to trumpet LTE’s transformational credentials, few are equipped to best monetise the technology and cope with both soaring data and complexity of consumer demand.
One of the major issues here is that every subscriber, application, and device is treated in the same way and, when the network gets clogged, service quality takes an inelegant nosedive.
To cope with the burning data conundrum, continual demands for improved quality of service, as well as increasingly diverse device mixes, usage patterns and advanced policy-based services, operator need to rethink their strategies.
In particular, an efficiency step-change is required when it comes to managing unpredictable changes in traffic. This means collecting and analysing real-time data on network load and performance, as well as subscriber activity, and relating it all back to policy. In other words, we can say that context is king.
One of the best ways service providers can up their game is by adapting to exponential increases in signalling traffic using Diameter, which is the protocol that enables network elements to communicate with each other to coordinate and optimise end-to-end transmission from the internet to mobile devices. This is the foundation to establish context, implement charging, and leverage traffic and services management.
Domain name system (DNS) protection is also going to be vital in delivering a best-of-breed and reliable service. For example, to protect the network against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and other sudden surges in DNS traffic, operators must be able to rapidly determine and mitigate threats to minimise network disruption. In order to tackle the emerging challenges associated with traffic growth and malicious activity configured to hobble mobile infrastructures, operators are likely to turn to tools like IP-client rate limiting. These can control traffic surges, and DNS caching can reduce the load on the DNS server. Furthermore, DNS processing complements Diameter functionality to optimise message routing to provide scalability.
Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) smarts are another up and coming must-have, making it easier for operators to aggregate information from multiple sources and achieve a platform with the right level of scalability to best leverage context-aware data.
Operators simply cannot afford to remain aloof, complacent and disconnected from the user-experience any more. While they might be catering to consumers in the same area, their needs will always vary wildly. Clunky and presumptuous one-size-fits all approaches are definitively on the way out, and things like intricately tailored, geolocation-driven services will become the norm.
Encouragingly for all concerned, we are now entering an era of service provision that has the potential to become far richer personalised and differentiated than ever before, all while utilising network resources with utmost efficiency and delivering sound ROI.