Cisco unveiled its new ASR 5500 hardware and software Tuesday. The unit is designed to sit at the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and support the explosive growth in mobile sessions that is happening now and only expected to increase over the coming years.
"It's a platform that is really the control point for the mobile network," Kelly Ahuja senior vice president and general manager of the Mobile Internet Technology Group at Cisco.
The box is part of the ASR 5000 series, sharing StarOS software with that mobile multimedia core router, according to Murali Nemani, director of service provider mobility at Cisco.
"The software was seen as the jewel," says Nemani. "Operators were saying to us, 'I need a platform that can take me into the next decade.'"
The ASR 5500 is already in commercial use, the Cisco executives say. Leading U.S. Long Term Evolution (LTE) provider Verizon has deployed the box, as well as India's Bharti Airtel and a third unnamed operator.
Why this matters
Cisco claims the ASR 5500 will help carriers stay several steps ahead of the coming mobile data surge from smartphones and tablets. Using its Networking Index (VNI) mobile data traffic forecast as a yardstick, Cisco predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016. (See Cisco: Tablets Hog More Data Than Smart Phones.)
Part of this will increasingly involve supporting machine-to-machine communications as the "Internet of things" grows over the coming decades. "Connected machines will outnumber people by two to one" by 2016, Kelly predicts.
All of this means that the ASR 5500 is designed to deliver a ten-times increase on existing capabilities. It will track and maintain the mobile session, undertake deep-packet inspection, while supporting security and firewall capabilities.
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