Feature Article

November 06, 2012

Taking MPLS to the Edge

Various reports indicate usage of mobile broadband is growing at more than 100 percent, so there is an obvious need for MNO’s to increase capacity, which they are doing in various ways. 

There have been two key developments: (1) employing new, more efficient radio technologies (HSPA+, LTE and WiMAX) and (2), off-loading data onto femtocells and Wi-Fi hotspots.

This means that the role backhaul plays has shifted and it will continue to shift if network operators are going to meet the market’s on-going demand for high-speed performance. 

If we keep things simple, but hopefully not too simple, we need to look at the bottleneck. It used to be backhaul, but Carrier Ethernet addressed that issue and it can deliver speeds up to 10G. Now it’s the air interface, which developments (1) and (2) addressed, but you can only go so far before hitting a financial wall.

Moreover, the deployment of femtocells introduces a network management issue and the parallel growth in the number of consumer and business services has led to the routers in the core network being overloaded. 

Let’s take this a step at a time, starting with MPLS and its intrinsic functionality. Carrier Ethernet provides high-speed transportation: MPLS provides innovative service delivery capabilities as well as global reach and scalability. It’s a high-performance, protocol agnostic mechanism that directs data from one network node to the next based on short path labels (aka tags). 

This means traffic engineering is an intrinsic capability and one that makes more efficient use of network resources and assures the SLA.

Research conducted by Heavy Reading indicates that the traffic engineering capability is the primary reason (35 percent) why operators are moving or are considering moving MPLS to the demarcation edge. The other reasons were better end-to-end resilience (23 percent), service scalability (21 percent) and easy vendor interoperability (19 percent). 

Telco Systems Wraps it Up

Telco Systems has introduced an all-in-one solution, the T-Marc 3312SC, which addresses all the above challenges. It provides optimized demarcation for 2G, 3G and 4G traffic and TDM is enabled over IP using CES (Circuit Emulation Service). A nice feature is the ability to employ this compact device for Carrier Ethernet and add MPLS as and when required, without doing a software upgrade and paying additional licensing fees.  

The price point is that of a L2 Carrier Ethernet switch.   

Other features include: Hierarchical QoS (HQoS); multiple resilience mechanisms; field-proven, hardware-based operations, administration and maintenance (OA&M) tools; time synchronization, future IPv6 support and compliance with mainstream standards.  Telco Systems states that the T-Marc 3312SC is the densest demarcation device in the market: 12 x 1G is a 1 RU high, 1 / 2 shelf wide unit. Multiple 1G ports can be used in order to aggregate the antenna clusters of small cells.

HQoS allows an additional QoS hierarchy to be employed and this provides a more flexible QoS scheme that enables a higher level of multiplexing while maintaining the required SLAs. 

Hardware-based OAM provides faster and more accurate results than a software solution and this is important since several standards mandate a 3.3ms response time. This is required in order to meet the sub 50ms protection time. 

The market requires real-time performance data.

Time synchronization is supported for different standards that mandate time to be centrally synchronized across the network, for example by TDM. And it will become more important when more LTE networks are up and running as LTE TDD requires both frequency and phase synchronization.

Carrier cloud gateway aggregation platform

Earlier this year, Telco introduced the T-Metro 8006 carrier cloud gateway aggregation platform. This was said to be the industry’s first open architecture, high-density service aggregation platform. It answers to many of the challenges introduced by cloud-based services including security, resiliency, low latency, load balancing and SLA monitoring.  

The carrier-grade, industry standard AdvancedTCA architecture enables the seamless integration of additional blades from other vendors, allowing for the creation of new services and solutions.

Edited by Braden Becker

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