Diameter Signaling Over IP Exchange Promises Bright New Horizon for 4G LTE Roaming

Joel Stradling
Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Diameter signaling is very complex and can be costly for mobile network operators (MNOs) to deliver
  • Wholesale carriers are moving in to help solve these complexity issues on behalf of MNO clients, and in the near future more widely available 4G roaming will help business users be more productive while on the road

Whilst Diameter signaling and IPX seem purely technical terms that have little to do with enterprise IT and communications, the fact is, the implications of these technologies on the way we can be productive while on the move are considerable. Imagine leaving your home 4G network, getting on a plane to travel to another country, and within minutes of landing, zap! you are once again able to enjoy high-speed mobile access and enterprise-quality video and voice. However, users are going to have to be aware of how their cross-border ubiquitous 4G LTE mobile experience is going to cause a huge spike in the monthly bill. We are all familiar with the high data roaming costs that can come with mobile broadband roaming, and therefore the enterprise customer needs to be continually pushing mobile vendors for fairer terms and prices, and already begin conversations on cost effective widespread 4G LTE roaming. Vodafone, for example, has recently suggested that 4G doubles data usage and that it expects 4G to increase mobile data revenues, including roaming, even in the light of incoming EU roaming legislation.

To support 4G roaming, MNOs face considerable upfront costs to buy their own Diameter signaling controllers and routers. Some carriers are being innovative and coming to the rescue with minimal CapEx offers, such as TSIC’s recently launched managed Diameter Signaling or “DRX” solution, which is more like an IaaS LTE roaming platform for MNOs, so that the MNO doesn’t have to buy kit to get up and running. Wholesale carriers are in the business of solving Diameter signaling complexity, with offerings available from for example TSIC, TI Sparkle, BICS, Tata Communications, and Syniverse, and in most cases solutions are running on IPX interconnected networks. IP Exchange (IPX) on MPLS appears to becoming the supporting platform for 4G LTE roaming. The inherent features of IPX, namely end-to-end QoS, multi-service and support for voice, video and messaging, over high speeds on mobile networks make it a winner. Carriers are interconnecting their IPXs to extend reach – not just for 4G roaming but for all kinds of other QoS-enabled IP services, including HD voice. As this space evolves, the end result for the enterprise is faster speeds on handhelds, and less reliance on looking for the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot. Enterprise social media and unified communications and collaboration tools should enjoy a boost in use on mobile devices as well as new innovative business tools driven by both needs and 4G LTE roaming progression.


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