Light Reading

Diameter Matters

Michelle Donegan
Wireless Bits
Michelle Donegan

11:25 AM -- You don't need to brush up on your geometry for my little blog here about Diameter. [Ed note: Phew!]

I'm talking about the Diameter protocol that handles signaling in Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks -- not shapes and the Pythagorean theorem. The Diameter protocol an essential Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) element for LTE networks because it touches just about every part of a mobile operator's network from the core to the backend billing systems. It's defined by the 3GPP for authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) on HSPA+, LTE and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) networks.

It's a big deal and it's about to get bigger, because operators are beginning to understand how they will have to cope with surges in Diameter signaling traffic, especially as their LTE subscriber base increases.

According to the "LTE Diameter Signaling Index" published by Tekelec, many factors will spur the growth of Diameter signaling traffic. Among the biggest catalysts are advanced policy and charging rules, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and video streaming

For example, signaling traffic will increase as operators introduce more sophisticated data plans, like those based on quality of service (QoS), time of day, or application; offer more personalized services; or add new policy use cases for over-the-top (OTT) services or mobile advertising.

So, it appears that almost any move a mobile operator makes to introduce new services or creative charging models, or to ensure QoS for voice and video offers on its new LTE network, will increase signaling traffic.

That's why it's an important technology to watch. It will also be fascinating to see just how operators choose to design their networks to deal with this onslaught of Diameter signaling traffic.

Companies like Tekelec believe such a surge in signaling traffic demands an infrastructure to support it -- using products like a Diameter signaling controller. But Tekelec's not alone. Other Diameter vendors include Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Diametriq and Traffix Systems , which was acquired by F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV).

For more on LTE signaling, check out these stories:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:20:53 PM
re: Diameter Matters

This looks like one of those cases where there is going to be a niche market, worth maybe a few hundred million dollars per year in vendor revenues once it hits maturity, but which is absolutely critical to network operator day-to-day operations.

I am struggling to see how any major 3G or 4G operators of any size can operate efficiently without a Diameter signaling controller.


Tonia Eynon
Tonia Eynon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:59 PM
re: Diameter Matters

<img alt="Click to visit New Whitepaper! LTE Signaling Traffic: What's Really Going On?" src="">&nbsp;Randall A. Snyder&nbsp;

The Internet is teeming with discussions and assertions that the amount of Diameter signaling traffic generated by the 4G LTE wireless core network is significantly higher than analogous SS7 signaling traffic. But is this additional signaling traffic attributable to additional network elements involving the Diameter protocol or the impacts of changing user behavior afforded by the features of LTE? Using Diametriq&rsquo;s Diameter Traffic Calculator&trade;, which is based on the standard signaling message flows as promulgated by 3GPP, certain scenarios reveal network bottlenecks, the influences of user behavior on signaling traffic and places in the network where fine-tuning can mitigate excessive traffic.

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