“Diameter for the Technically Challenged” or what should you know about Diameter signaling protocol even if you are not a telecom engineer

During your average day how many times do you:

  • Speak and text on your smartphone,
  • Browse on your tablet, or
  • Work on your laptop?
  • In the evenings you may read ebooks,
  • Message from your mobile, or
  • Check your Facebook.
  • You go on vacation and watch videos while waiting for the plane,
  • Take pictures with your phone and send them to friends back home.
  • You leave your Skype or instant messenger open …

In short, you are always connected to the network, meaning that the mobile operator’s processing behind the scenes to support all your data communications is always on, and has now become a critical factor in the performance of the mobile network.

And the trend to use the mobile network for data is growing in leaps and bounds…

Your Mobile Network is Moving to IP

To support your constant use of the Internet through your cellular network, many mobile operators are beginning to empower networks with Internet Protocol (IP) using technologies generally referred to as 4G such as IMS, LTE and others. These technologies require systems to communicate with each other using what is known as a signaling protocol that can support millions of subscribers accessing the Internet all the time. The particular signaling protocol selected by the telecommunication industry is known as Diameter.

Diameter: The Chosen Standard

The organizations who set international standards in the telecommunications industry (such as 3GPP and ETSI) have selected Diameter as the signaling protocol to enable operators to support 4G services. Why is that? Because Diameter is the only signaling protocol that is capable of managing the constant flow of core network signaling in an environment that has become far more complex with many more network elements needed to fulfill the promises of 4G.

Fulfilling the Promises of LTE Mobile Technology

Today’s mobile network operator growth is fueled by data traffic; voice has become secondary. On paper, LTE and other IP-based technologies have made amazing promises to provide you with high quality mobile broadband, sophisticated services, tiered charging plans, better roaming schemes, and much more. However, the implementation of all these promised services takes place in the core network and requires signaling that will tackle the challenges for cost-effective connectivity, scalability and control in the section of the network known as the control plane.

Data Brings Complexity

In fact, your mobile operator’s focus on data will only increase in time as the initiatives of voice over LTE (VoLTE) take hold, introducing a network where everything is data. Access to data, meaning the web, video, SMS, MMS, presence, and VoIP, requires constant Diameter signaling with a spaghetti of network nodes and interfaces. Network operators need a configuration of Diameter solutions such as gateways to connect the new elements to the old ones, load balancers for scalability meaning to grow the network easily, and routers that ensure the messages from each subscriber go to the right places – in short, to support communications that are becoming increasingly complicated.

Using Diameter to Control the Complexity
Once upon a time, network signaling was activated when a phone call began and ended when the speakers hung up. Now this scenario is no longer relevant, and your mobile operator has far greater challenges to solve. The only way for your mobile operator to successfully manage its network is to focus on its control plane with the right signaling products that provide cost effective, robust and intelligent solutions.

You may not be a telecom engineer, but you want to know that your network will respond rapidly to your request the next time you pick up your tablet or mobile device. Whether you want to send a message home, check your train’s timetable or download an app, you want fast communications. In summary, it doesn’t take a telecom engineer to understand that almost everything you do with your mobile device depends on data communications, and that the right Diameter solution is the key ingredient for high performance, excellent quality of service, and advanced service enablement.