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A signaling storm is gathering - Is your packet core ready?

This blog is by Teemu Mäkinen from the Evolved Packet Core marketing team.

As mobile broadband penetration increases, the growth in signaling load will significantly outpace the corresponding rise in data traffic. We estimate that the growth in signaling will be up to 50% faster than the growth in data traffic over the next few years

The evolution of networks, smart devices and applications are all playing a role in driving up the signaling load. When you add up the numbers, the average signaling requirement per subscriber is up to 42% higher with LTE than with HSPA. The implications for packet core networks, in particular, are substantial. In fact, the transaction requirements for Evolved Packet Core are growing dramatically and by 2015 will generate 250% more signaling, which the core network must be ready to handle.

Why is signaling load growing to such an extent? In 3G networks, the Radio Network Controller (RNC) resides between the base station and core network elements, effectively shielding the core network from the mass of signaling generated by the radio access network for mobility management. Because LTE uses a flat architecture, it eliminates the RNC. As the core network is connected directly to the LTE base stations, so it must handle all signaling traffic.

It’s clear that signaling has become a critical consideration when dimensioning packet core networks. These networks have traditionally been dimensioned for subscriber, session and throughput capacity. To cope with greater signaling load, they will now need to be dimensioned for CPU-intensive signaling capacity. But unlike subscriber and session capacity there is no common definition for signaling capacity for packet core products. This is one challenge that operators must contend with. In addition, many packet core network elements available today have evolved from router technology that is fundamentally unable to handle the combination of data and signaling traffic that mobile networks generate.

Nokia Siemens Network packet core designed to handle high signaling loadBuilding on our long background in mobile communications, Nokia Siemens Networks has designed its Evolved Packet Core (EPC) to handle high signaling load. Built on the Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA®), EPC can handle high signaling loads, as well as the traditional dimensioning requirements of throughput, sessions and subscribers.

How do you see the challenge of signaling load? Please share your views.

Please find further information in the white paper "Signaling is growing 50% faster than data traffic" here.