Feature Article

March 02, 2012

LTE and Roaming - Sybase 365 Leading the Charge

This past week my colleague Calvin Azuri highlighted the recent announcement by Sybase 365 of its Diameter Routing Hub. The article detailed how the new capability, designed over the Sybase 365 IP Exchange (IPX) framework and driven by Mavenir Systems’ Diameter Routing technology, was aimed at giving mobile services providers the ability to provide roaming services for LTE networks with the same level of interoperability that presently exists in the 2G and 3G worlds for voice, SMS and MMS.

While the announcement was impressive, it seemed like a good time to catch up with one of my favorite providers of industry insights, Bill Dudley, for a bit of perspective on all of this. Rather than our usual eclectic exchanges about various industry trends, I was curious about why he agreed with me that Diameter-based functionality was a big deal.

The answer was simpler than I thought. The world’s focus has been on the bandwidth and feature functionality that the deployment of 4G LTE networks and their forthcoming interoperability with Wi-Fi (see all of the MobilityTechzone stories about this that came out of the just concluded Mobile World Congress in Barcelona), portend as enablers of all those apps on the exploding population of smartphones and tablets. However, as Bill says, without the plumbing to enable interoperability, policy management, resource allocation and subscriber authentication and interactions with home location registers and billing systems, LTE is hamstrung in terms of being able to deliver the capabilities service providers need to fully monetize the technology. This includes the ability to create not just new services according to Dudley but also new flexible business models. 

As Dudley points out, “Diameter is not just the protocol of choice for creating data service interoperability, it is the only way to integrate all the moving parts necessary for creation of quality customer experiences, and the flexibility to massively deploy new value-added services.” In short, it is a “gotta have.”   In fact, as Dudley said, “Diameter is foundational for the establishment of LTE ecosystems.”

Sometimes those of us in the industry get fixed on the sizzle and overlook the basics. Let’s face it, plumbing is not sexy. However, if you think not, look at the success Sybase 365 has enjoyed with its GRX and now IPX capabilities. The suite of services offered off of these respective platforms are the reasons when you send an SMS message from your Verizon 3G phone in New York to a friend on the Orange network in Paris they receive it and can answer back. That is the power of the Sybase exchange services at work as driven by Diameter signaling. 

As Dudley says, and the previous article on Diameter Hubbing detailed, in the LTE world roaming “is virtually non-existent.” If you think this is insignificant as 4G LTE rolls out, think again. Roaming -- actually service interoperability -- is critical for voice interconnect service which in a 4G LTE world is actually data since it will ultimately be voice over IP (VoLTE) traffic as more and more people get 4G phones and expect 4G LTE connectivity. It is critical for data roaming services, roaming signaling services and access to SMS and MMS messaging hubs.   In other words, without it, communications would consist of LTE and hopping from providers with interoperability agreements rather than what we all expect is a frictionless transaction where all we have to worry about is the bill (no pun intended to Dudley).

Do not take my word -- or even Dudley’s -- as to why this is important. Check out the recent first-ever market look from my friends at Infonectics Research: “ Diameter Signaling Control Worldwide and Regional Market Size and Forecasts.”   I won’t spoil all of the fun except to note that they are forecasting that the Diameter signaling control market will grow at 106 percent CAGR through 2016. 

Sybase 365 while in the services end of the mobile ecosystem says the interest in the IPX, particularly in Diameter Hubbing is “intense.” With the tsunami of 4G smartphones and tablets about to crash upon mobile operator shores, being able to channel the force of that storm surge into profitable services that customers can enjoy and operators can monetize, including with premium offerings, is a case of being forewarned is fore-armed. 

Thank you Bill Dudley and thank you Infonetics.    

Edited by Rich Steeves

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