Two years ago I wrote in Synergy that it was time for operators to evolve their networks to LTE. Since then, the number of LTE networks has grown nearly 600 percent from 19 in 2010 to 128 in 2012 according to Wireless Intelligence.
The growing number of networks globally means the next phase of LTE—roaming and interworking—is now a reality.
Syniverse is helping operators prepare for this crucial next step through our comprehensive LTE roaming environment, which allows them to conduct end-to-end LTE roaming testing via Syniverse’s IPX network.
The tests have proven extremely beneficial to the Tier 1 operators participating in the trials, resolving challenges that could only be uncovered by putting the network to the test. Fortunately, Syniverse’s rich history in helping mobile service providers evolve to future technologies and overcome interoperability complexities enabled our team to troubleshoot and resolve the issues, helping ensure a seamless transition to and future deployment of LTE roaming for the participants. Here are three key lessons learned thus far:
Ensure Proper Signaling is in Place
In order for an end user’s mobile device to register and be authorized for service while roaming, the home and visited network’s Diameter protocols must be able to communicate with each other. Because LTE interoperability is far more complex than legacy SS7 interoperability due to the new network architecture, part of the trial process included network element reconfigurations to ensure the foundation for LTE roaming was in place.
Validate Traffic Flow
Many issues can arise preventing traffic from reaching its destination, which means that although an end user’s device shows a signal on the visited network, it won’t be capable of completing calls, sending messages or using data. Syniverse’s real-time intelligence tool Visibility® monitored traffic as operators tested with one another. As a result, we were able to pinpoint issues undetected by standard testing procedures. Stringent firewall settings and routing discrepancies were found to be the blame for some of the traffic failures, and naturally the issues proved different for each roaming partner relationship. Fortunately, real-time intelligence made it simple to discover and remedy these challenges.
Comply with New Clearing Requirements
LTE roaming requires operators to submit new call detail record (CDR) information to their clearing house in order for the records to be processed and changed to TAP accurately. In the testing environment, initial submissions did not include the necessary information, preventing accurate wholesale and retail billing. This shows why it is more important than ever for operators to use a trusted intermediary with experience in LTE for clearing and settlement.
So far, our seven trials are laying the necessary groundwork to support LTE roaming interoperability, and we are continuing with additional tests to address voice over LTE, quality and class of service, IMS interworking and policy management.
New technologies such as LTE require interoperability between mobile service providers to assure a consistent quality of experience for end users, and these trials will pave the way to wider LTE reach.Chief Network Architect BJ Neal discusses additional complexities of LTE.