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Optical/IP

All Aboard the GGSN Test

Light Reading is teaming up with the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) and Spirent Communications to test one of the workhorses of the 3G world: gateway GPRS service nodes.

The independent tests will be conducted by EANTC at its labs in Berlin, using Spirent Landslide 2500 equipment. The tests will focus on measuring the performance of the nodes and provide a comparison of participating products.

This project is intended as more than a simple overview of GGSN products, instead providing a comprehensive look at how each product performs in the world of 3G networks and applications.

Light Reading has already invited the industry heavyweights, including:

Companies that think that their products should be in the lineup should contact us as soon as possible. The test slots will be given out strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. Companies are asked to supply a single GGSN along with an engineer. The tests will be supervised by an EANTC project manager.

So, why test GGSNs?

Well, the gateway GPRS service node is a key factor in the steady move from pure circuit-switched cellular networks, which only handle voice and simple text messaging, towards more IP-centric third-generation networks, which can support voice and a number of data applications.

First introduced in 2000 as part of the GPRS (general packet radio service) packet-overlay upgrade to GSM networks, the service node acts as a link between the mobile network and public IP networks. The GGSN also facilitates roaming between separate carrier networks.

The EANTC tests will focus on how the gateways can support and scale with third-generation UMTS networks. EANTC plans to test four major aspects of GGSN performance: Capacity, session loading, handoff between the GGSN and the serving gateway service node (SGSN), and how the node handles content billing.

Capacity: Simply tests the ability of the node to handle a large number of subscribers. EANTC plans to emulate the maximum number of users per node and their activities while on the network (e.g., content downloads).

Session loading: Emulating session loading will enable EANTC to discover how the node operates in the real world over long periods of time. The test firm will emulate loading the GGSN with multiple PDP context activations and deactivations at the same time. If you're wondering, PDP contexts define the quality of service, routing, and other aspects of mobile phone calls connected to public data networks via GPRS.

Inter-SGSN handoff: The SGSN is an important aspect of 3G networks. It is a node that tracks and records the activities of a mobile phone on the network, as well as handling access control and security functions. EANTC plans to test whether the GGSN can sustain performance during denial-of-service attacks from subscribers or the Internet, and assess the router's capability to switch to secondary resources under load, in case of a hardware failure.

Billing: The content billing test is intended to test the ability of the GGSN and the content billing server to process billing information based on real-time traffic inspection at the application layer.

Vendors interested in participating in the tests should email Carsten Rossenhövel, the Managing Director of Research & Manufacturer Testing at EANTC at [email protected].

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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