LTE: Addressing the Mobile Broadband Tidal Wave
Sanjay Rohatgi, Senior Vice President - Service Provider, Cisco India and SAARC
Over the last two decades, the way people communicate, stay informed, and are entertained has changed dramatically. There have been two major technologies driving this change - the Internet and mobile wireless communication. Now, these two forces are merging to enable the mobile Internet and the corresponding growth of mobile data services.
As users increasingly enter the network and create an enormous surge in mobile traffic with more compelling services and mobile multimedia computing devices, mobile operators are deploying broadband network technologies such as 3G, enhanced 3G, and now 3GPP long-term evolution (LTE) specification in order to meet user expectations for speed in an increasingly mobile, wireless environment. The Cisco VNI report predicts that the global online video community will increase by approximately 500 million users by 2015, up from more than 1 billion Internet video users in 2010.
Designated as a 4G or fourth-generation mobile specification, LTE is expected to provide multi-megabit bandwidth, more efficient use of the radio network, latency reduction, and improved mobility. This is expected to enhance subscriber inter-action with the network and furl her drive the demand for mobile multi-media services. With wireless broad-band, people can access Internet services, such as on-line television, blogging, social networking, and interactive gaming easily on the go.
The deployment of LTE will imply a transition from 3G to 4G and mobile operators must look for strategies and solutions that will enhance their existing 3G networks, while addressing 46 deployment requirements. They need the multimedia core network to be readily upgradeable to the requirements of another 4G architecture called Systems Architecture Evolution (SAE).
Solutions already deployed in the market may include many of the elements required of the 4G net-work like integrated intelligence, simplified network architecture, high bandwidth performance capabilities and enhanced mobility. In order to avoid a costly replacement of the existing systems, solutions capable of supporting multiple functions in a single node through a soft-ware upgrade must be chosen.
Evolving the Packet Core
Radio access solutions are a primary consideration of the LTE deployment strategy. as they impact the spectrum. However, equally important is the multimedia core network. LTE calls for a transition to a flat, all-IP core network with open interfaces, called the Evolved Packet Core or EPC. While the deployment of LTE radio access networks receives considerable attention, the EPC has emerged as critical for delivering next-generation mobile broadband services. The goal of the EPC is higher throughput, lower latency, simplified mobility between 3GPP and non-3GPP networks, enhanced service control and provisioning and efficient use of net work resources.
While the EPC has been defined in conjunction with LTE, it is an open next generation packet core for all networks, including 2.5G, 3G, 4G, non-3GPP and even fixed net-works. While the EPC represents one of the smallest percentages of overall wireless infrastructure spending, it provides the greatest potential impact on overall network profitability through enablement of new services combined with cost savings from operational efficiencies.
Mobile operators look for the best multimedia core solutions to deliver an optimum user experience and migrate to an efficient, intelligent EPC. As such, mobile operators look for solutions that can address today's requirements while positioning them for future technologies. By opting for intelligent, high-performance solutions that change the packet core environment to a true multimedia core network, operators can deliver best-in-class experience to the user which in reality is the promise of true mobile broadband.